High blood pressure can cause many serious complications if not well controlled. And if you want to keep your blood pressure stable, you need to do something very important. That is taking the right blood pressure medication. Currently, antihypertensive drugs are very diverse with different indications and effects. What are the side effects of blood pressure medications? How to limit them? The following article of Doctor Luong Sy Bac will answer these questions for you. We invite you to find out!
When to take blood pressure medication?
Hypertension in adults is defined as systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mmHg. According to the Joint National Committee – JNC, hypertension is divided into two stages (formerly three stages) as follows:first
|Classify||SBP||Diastolic blood pressure|
|Normal blood pressure||≤ 120 mmHg||≤ 80 mmHg|
|Pre-hypertension||120 – 129 mmHg||80 – 84 mmHg|
|Hypertension||≥140 mmHg||90 mmHg|
|Grade I hypertension||140 – 159 mmHg||90 – 99 mmHg|
|Grade II hypertension||160 – 179 mmHg||100 – 109 mmHg|
When using any blood pressure medication, patients should note the indications, interactions, as well as side effects of that blood pressure drug. In addition, the doctor will also consider the condition of each patient to come up with a regimen. Specifically, antihypertensive drugs will be prescribed by the doctor in the following cases:2
- The patient is in prehypertension. And have very high cardiovascular risk factors (such as having cardiovascular disease, complicated diabetes or having chronic kidney disease).
- The patient had grade I hypertension and moderate cardiovascular risk factors.
- Patients with grade II hypertension or higher must use blood pressure medication according to the doctor’s order.
- In addition, cases of sudden hypertensive crisis upon admission will also be given medication to control blood pressure.
Side effects of blood pressure medication
Basically, all antihypertensive drugs have side effects to varying degrees. Common side effects for each class of blood pressure medication are:3
ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers
These two classes of drugs have quite similar side effects. The most common cause is a persistent dry cough. Conventional cough medicine will not be able to cure this condition. Therefore, the patient can only change to another antihypertensive drug or reduce the dose.
Less common side effects include dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, muscle pain, rash, and hyperkalemia. In particular, this group of drugs can cause birth defects if used by pregnant women during pregnancy.
Besides, angioedema is also a dangerous but rare side effect of ACEi. Specifically, after a few minutes to a few hours of using the drug. Patients may experience swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat leading to chest tightness and difficulty breathing. This is an emergency, the patient must be taken to the hospital and stopped using the drug. In addition, receptor blockers are less likely to cause side effects than ACE inhibitors.
Sympathomimetic beta blockers
Beta blockers are generally not suitable for people with asthma. Or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that is not well controlled. Because the drug can aggravate the symptoms of diseases related to peripheral blood vessels.
Beta-blockers can also cause fatigue, slow heart rate, sleep disturbances, rash, cold hands and feet, and decreased sex drive.
Calcium channel blockers
The drug causes side effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea, constipation, heartburn, hot flushes, leg swelling.
Diuretics increase the excretion of water and salt through the urine. Thereby reducing blood pressure. As a result, the drug may cause the patient to urinate more often than usual.
At the same time, due to the effect of reducing electrolytes and reducing the amount of fluid in the body. Patients may also have symptoms of fatigue, muscle weakness, cramps, arrhythmia when using the drug. Other possible side effects include erectile dysfunction, causing an acute gout attack.
See more: Current treatments for high blood pressure
How to limit side effects of blood pressure medication?
As mentioned, all antihypertensive drugs cause more or less side effects. In most cases, the body will adapt and gradually reduce symptoms after a period of use. However, if you want to limit the side effects of blood pressure medication. Patients can take some of the following measures:
- With diuretics, the drug should be taken in the morning. This is to avoid frequent urination at night, causing insomnia. If twice-daily dosing is required, the second dose should be taken by four o’clock in the afternoon.
- With ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers. Women who are planning to become pregnant or are pregnant should not use these drugs. And patients of reproductive age if need to use these two groups of drugs. Effective methods of contraception should be used in advance to prevent pregnancy. In addition, inform your doctor if you notice a persistent dry cough while taking the medicine.6
- To limit falls due to postural hypotension, stand or sit up slowly, avoiding changing positions too quickly.
- Do not break, chew, crush or mix with water to take the medicine. It is not advisable to buy medicine by yourself, but to consult a doctor.
- Make sure to take your medicine at the right time and in the right dose each day. Avoid overdose of antihypertensive drugs.
See more: Doctor instructs to take antihypertensive drugs properly and effectively
Non-pharmacological methods of controlling blood pressure
Treatment of hypertension must combine pharmacological and non-pharmacological measures. Taking medication correctly will limit the side effects of blood pressure medication. And building a healthy lifestyle will help keep blood pressure in check:5
- Build a healthy, heart-healthy diet.
- Use a salt-restricted diet.
- No smoking, alcohol.
- Exercise in moderation, gently.
- Proper weight control.
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly at home.
- Control blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Relax your mind and reduce stress.
Hope the above article has helped you answer questions about the side effects of blood pressure medication. Take the medicine properly to limit this side effect. At the same time, it should be noted that when indicated, taking blood pressure medication will be mandatory and continue for life. In addition, patients should adhere to the regimen and lead a healthy life to help keep blood pressure stable.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.