Side-Effects of Blood Pressure Medications
Conventional physicians often prescribe one or more blood pressure medications to help their patients manage high blood pressure consistently above a reading of 140/90. The most commonly prescribed blood pressure medications are ACE inhibitors, alpha and beta blockers (used alone or in combination with each other), alpha-2 receptor agonists, angiotensin II receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers, central agonists, diuretics, and vasodilators. Unfortunately, all of these classes of drugs can cause unhealthy side-effects. The most common side-effects for each class are:
ACE inhibitors help the body produce less angiotensin, a chemical substance that causes arteries to become narrower, especially arteries that run through the kidneys. Common side effects include chronic dry or hacking cough, loss of taste, skin rash, and possible kidney damage. ACE inhibitors are also contraindicated for women who are pregnant, as they have been shown to be dangerous for both mother and baby.
Alpha blockers are used to relax arterial walls so that blood can flow more easily. However, this class of drugs can cause accelerated heart rate, dizziness, and a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing.
Alpha-2 receptor agonists
This class of drugs helps to reduce blood pressure by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic (adrenaline-producing) portion of the body’s nervous system. Common side-effects include dizziness and drowsiness.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers
Like ACE inhibitors, these drugs help to reduce the body’s production of angiotensin. Their most common side-effect is dizziness, and they are also contraindicated during pregnancy because of the serious risks they pose for the developing fetus.
Beta-blockers help manage high blood pressure by reducing heart rate and the heart’s workload and output of blood. However, beta blockers can cause a variety of side-effects, including asthma symptoms, cold feet and hands, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and excessively slow heart rate. In addition, they can also cause impotence in men and should be used with caution during pregnancy and by anyone suffering from diabetes. .
Calcium channel blockers
As their name suggests, this class of drugs helps to block calcium from entering into the smooth muscle cells of the heart and arteries. Common side-effects include constipation, dizziness, headache, heart palpitations, and swollen ankles.
This class of drugs helps decrease contractions and tension in blood vessels. Common side-effects include anemia, constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth, fever, muscle weakness, and an unhealthy sudden drop in blood pressure while standing or walking, along with impotence in men. Caution: If your doctor has prescribed central agonist medications for you, don’t stop taking them “cold turkey”, as doing so can cause a sudden and dangerous spike in blood pressure levels. Instead, taper them off gradually under your doctor’s supervision.
Diuretics help manage blood pressure levels by aiding the body’s ability to eliminate excess sodium and water levels. However, diuretic drugs can also flush the potassium from your body, resulting in chronic fatigue, leg cramps, and muscle weakness. Long-term use of diuretics can also cause gout, and can also increase blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.