Reviewed by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
Combined with lifestyle management techniques, today's blood pressure medicines can safely help most people control their blood pressures and hypertension.

These medicines are easy to take. The side effects, if any, tend to be minor.

Blood pressure medicines work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Some remove extra fluid and salt from the body to lower blood pressure. Others slow down the heartbeat or relax and widen blood vessels. Often, two or more medicines work better than one. Medicines include:

  • Diuretics. Diuretics are sometimes called water pills. They help your kidneys flush excess water and salt from your body. This lessens the amount of fluid in your blood and your blood pressure goes down. Diuretics are often used with other blood pressure medicines and sometimes combined into one pill.

  • Beta Blockers. Beta blockers help your heart beat slower and with less force. Your heart pumps less blood through your blood vessels and your blood pressure goes down.

  • ACE Inhibitors. ACE inhibitors keep your body from making a hormone called angiotensin II. This hormone normally causes blood vessels to narrow. ACE inhibitors prevent this, so your blood pressure goes down.

  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers. Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are newer blood pressure medicines that protect your blood vessels from angiotensin II. As a result, blood vessels relax and widen, and your blood pressure goes down.

  • Calcium Channel Blockers. Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels. This allows blood vessels to relax, and your blood pressure goes down.

  • Alpha Blockers. Alpha blockers reduce nerve impulses that tighten blood vessels. This allows blood to flow more freely, causing blood pressure to go down.

  • Alpha-Beta Blockers. Alpha-beta blockers reduce nerve impulses the same way alpha blockers do. However, they also slow the heartbeat like beta blockers. As a result, blood pressure goes down.

  • Nervous System Inhibitors. Nervous system inhibitors increase nerve impulses from the brain to relax and widen blood vessels. This causes blood pressure to go down.

  • Vasodilators. Vasodilators relax the muscles in blood vessel walls. This causes blood pressure to go down.

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