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Understanding Your High Blood Pressure Medications

Jan 15, 2008
Blood pressure is a necessary part of the body's survival; we often think of it as a bad thing because so many have problems with high blood pressure. However, your blood pressure is simply a measurement of the movement of your blood through your system. When your heart beats, it pumps and then rests, pumps, and then rests, and continues this cycle for as long as you live. Your blood pressure reading is in two numbers and is expressed as "120 over 80," or whatever your reading is. The first number is when your heart pumps, the second is when it rests in between pumps. High blood pressure is when it pumps too hard or when the blood is continuing to be pushed too hard in between those pumps.

There are many causes of high blood pressure, from genetic predisposition to obesity to poor diet, and many other reasons. Some cases are not bad enough to warrant anything more than some suggestions from your doctor about lifestyle and diet choices, while other cases of high blood pressure are so dangerous that you need to be on medication to regulate it. If this is true in your case, here is some simple information to help you better understand commonly prescribed medications:

Diuretics

You may have heard of these types of medications for high blood pressure actually being abused by those who want to lose weight. They work by causing the body to lose excess water. Since blood is made mostly of water, when you have less water in your system you have less volume of blood moving through you. This lowers your blood pressure. Diuretics are often prescribed with other high blood pressure medications, not simply on their own.

Beta Blockers

If you've been prescribed beta blockers for your high blood pressure, you need to make sure you are taking the prescribed dose exactly as directed, and do not take any other medications unless you are sure there will be no drug interaction. Beta blockers cause your heart to beat slower than normally, which in turns slows or lowers your blood pressure. Obviously any medication that affects your heart rate needs to be taken as prescribed.

ACE Inhibitors, ARB Receptor Blockers, and Calcium Channel Blockers

ACE stands for "angiotensin-converting enzyme," and ARB stands for "angiotensin receptor blockers," so let's just use ACE and ARB. ACE inhibitors and ARB blockers stop a certain enzyme in the body that is needed to cause blood vessels to constrict; if the blood vessels are constricted, you're likely to have high blood pressure as the body needs to work harder to push the blood through those smaller openings. Calcium channel blockers do much the same thing.

There are other medicines that you may be prescribed instead of or in addition to these medicines for your high blood pressure, and if you have any question about their dosage, schedule, interaction, side effects, or anything else, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor.

Always consult your doctor before using this information.

This Article is nutritional in nature and is not to be construed as medical advice.
About the Author
David Cowley has created numerous articles on heart disease. He has also created a Web Site dedicated to heart disease and how to treat them. Visit Heart Disease
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