Blood Pressure Medication Side
Possible Side Effects of Drugs That Lower Blood Pressure
Some of the drugs listed below can affect certain functions of the body, resulting in bad side
effects. However, drugs that lower blood pressure have proven effective over the years. The
benefits of using them far outweigh the risk of side effects. Most people who’ve taken these drugs
haven’t had any problems.
Diuretics — Some of these
drugs may decrease your body's supply of a mineral called potassium. Symptoms such as weakness, leg cramps or being
tired may result. Eating foods containing potassium may help prevent significant potassium
loss. You can prevent potassium loss by taking a liquid or tablet that has potassium along
with the diuretic, if your doctor recommends it. Diuretics such as amiloride (Midamar),
spironolactone (Aldactone) or triamterene (Dyrenium) are called "potassium sparing" agents.
They don’t cause the body to lose potassium. They might be prescribed alone but are usually
used with another diuretic. Some of these combinations are Aldactazide, Dyazide, Maxzide or
Some people suffer from attacks of gout
after prolonged treatment with diuretics. This side effect isn't
common and can be managed by other treatment. This is because of hyperurecemia
caused by diuretics.
In people with diabetes, diuretic drugs may increase the
blood sugar level. A change in drug, diet, insulin or oral antidiabetic dosage corrects this
in most cases. Your doctor can change your treatment. Most of the time the degree of
increase in blood sugar isn't much. Impotence may also occur in a small percentage of
—Acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor, Mepressor,
Merol), nadolol (Corgard), pindolol (Visken), propranolol (Inderal) or timolol (Blocadren) may
cause insomnia, cold hands and feet, tiredness or depression, a slow heartbeat or symptoms of asthma. Impotence may occur. If you
have diabetes and you’re taking insulin, have your
responses to therapy monitored closely.
ACE inhibitors — These drugs,
such as captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Zestril or Prinivil), may cause a
skin rash; loss of taste; a chronic dry, hacking cough most common side effect; and in rare
instances, kidney damage.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers
— These drugs may cause occasional dizziness.
Calcium channel blockers —
Diltiazem (Cardizem), nicardipine (Cardene), Nifedipine (Procardia) and verapamil (Calan or
Isoptin) may cause palpitations, swollen ankles edema, constipation, headache or dizziness. Side
effects with each of these drugs differ a great deal.
Alpha blockers —
These drugs may cause fast heart rate, dizziness or a drop in blood
pressure when you stand up i.e postural hypoteson
Combined alpha and beta blockers — People taking
these drugs may experience a drop in blood pressure when they stand up.
Central agonists — Alpha
methyldopa (Aldomet) may produce a greater drop in blood pressure when you're in an upright
position (standing or walking) and may make you feel weak or faint if the pressure has been lowered
too far. This drug may also cause drowsiness or sluggishness, dryness of the mouth, fever or
anemia. Male patients may experience impotence. If this side effect persists, your doctor may have
to change the drug dosage or use another medication.
Clonidine (Catapres), guanabenz
(Wytensin) or guanfacine (Tenex) may produce severe dryness of the mouth, constipation or
drowsiness. If you're taking any of these drugs, don’t stop suddenly, because your blood pressure
may rise quickly to dangerously high levels.
Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors
— Reserpine may cause a stuffy nose, diarrhea or heartburn. These effects aren't severe and
no treatment is required other than to change the
amount of drugs taken. If you have nightmares or insomnia or get depressed, tell your doctor.
You should stop using the drugs.
Guanadrel (Hylorel) or guanethidine
(Ismelin) may cause some diarrhea, which may persist in some people. This side
effect usually becomes less of a problem if you continue treatment.
These drugs reduce blood pressure more when
you stand. Consequently, you may get dizzy and lightheaded and feel weak when you get out of bed in
the morning or stand up suddenly. If you notice any of these reactions — and if they persist for
more than a minute or two — sit or lie down and either reduce or omit the next dose of the
drug. If symptoms continue, contact your
When you're taking guanethidine, don't keep
standing in the hot sun or at a social gathering if you begin to feel faint or weak. These
activities cause low blood pressure. Male patients may experience impotence. Contact your doctor if
this occurs. These drugs are rarely used unless other medications don’t help.
Blood vessel dilators — Hydralzine
(Apresoline) may cause headaches, swelling around the eyes, heart palpitations or
aches and pains in the joints. Usually none of these symptoms are severe, and most will go
away after a few weeks of treatment. Minoxidil (Loniten) is a potent drug
that's usually used only in resistant cases of severe high blood pressure. It may cause fluid
retention (marked weight gain) or excessive hair growth.
NOTE: If you're taking any
of the medications discussed here, don't stop taking them without consulting your doctor. You may
not find all adverse effects in all indviduals.