The Most Popular High Blood Pressure Medications

High blood pressure or hypertension, is a medical condition in which the force of the blood pumping through the arteries is dangerously high. According to MedlinePlus, high blood pressure increases your risk of a stroke, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and premature death. Medications prescribed for high blood pressure act on different parts of the body to decrease the pressure. When combined with a healthy diet and program of physical activity, blood pressure medications can be an effective way to stay well.

High blood pressure can cause premature death. (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images)

Diuretics

Diuretics, also known as water pills, are medications that trigger the kidneys to excrete sodium and water. This action decreases the pressure on the walls of the arteries by decreasing the fluid volume of the blood. According to MayoClinic.com, thiazide diuretic medications are often the initial therapy prescribed for individuals with high blood pressure. These medications are used in conjunction with other medications to lower blood pressure. The most popular diuretic medications include chlorothiazide, or Diuril; hydrochlorothiazide; metolazone, or Zaroxolyn; bumetanide, or Bumex; ethacrynic acid, or Edecrin; furosemide, or Lasix; torsemide, or Demadex; amiloride; triamterene, or Dyrenium; eplerenone, or Inspra; and spironolactone, or Aldactone.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers are a class of drugs that slow down the heart rate, decreasing the force on the heart and arteries. This causes blood pressure to decrease. Beta blockers block the release of the hormone epinephrine, which is usually released in response to stress, but is also released chronically in people with high blood pressure. These medications are generally prescribed with a diuretic in order to be more effective. The most popular medications in this class are acebutolol, or Sectral; atenolol, or Tenormin; bisoprolol, or Zebeta; carvedilol, or Coreg; metoprolol, or Lopressor, Toprol XL; nadolol, or Corgard; nebivolol, or Bystolic, and propranolol, or Inderal LA.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme, or ACE, Inhibitors are a class of medications that prevent the body from producing angiotensin, which narrows the blood vessels. The vessels instead relax, thus lowering blood pressure. Popular ACE inhibiting medications include benazepril, or Lotensin; captopril, or Capoten; enalapril, or Vasotec; fosinopril, or Monopril; lisinopril, or Prinivil, Zestril; moexipril, or Univasc; perindopril, or Aceon; quinapril, or Accupril; ramipril, or Altace; and trandolapril, or Mavik.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

Angiotensin II receptor blockers or ARB's, relax the walls of the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. The mechanism of action by which these medications work is by blocking the production of Angiotensin II, a naturally occurring substance. Angiotensin II narrows the blood vessels and increases the amount of sodium and water in the body, both of which cause increased blood pressure. Popular Angiotensin II receptor blockers include candesartan, or Atacand; eprosartan, or Teveten; irbesartan, or Avapro; losartan, or Cozaar; olmesartan, or Benicar; telmisartan, or Micardis, and valsartan, or Diovan.

Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers relax the walls of the blood vessels by preventing the absorption of calcium into the cells of the heart and blood vessels. Calcium is a natural muscle relaxer that, according to MayoClinic.com, can also relieve angina and cardiac arrhythmia. These medications are available in both long and short-acting versions and the most popular calcium channel blockers include amlodipine, or Norvasc; diltiazem, or Cardizem LA, Dilacor XR and Tiazac; felodipine, or Plendil; isradipine, or DynaCirc CR; nicardipine, or Cardene, Cardene SR; nifedipine, or Procardia, Procardia XL and Adalat CC; nisoldipine, or Sular; and verapamil, or Calan Verelan, Covera-HS.

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