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High Blood Pressure -- Medicines to Help You

February 2009

High blood pressure is a serious illness.

High blood pressure is often called a "silent killer" because many people have it but do not know it. Some people do not feel sick at first. Over time, people who do not get treated for high blood pressure can get very sick or even die.

High blood pressure can cause:

  • kidney failure
  • stroke
  • blindness and
  • heart attacks.

There is good news.

There are life-saving medicines people can take every day to help control their high blood pressure. People who eat healthy foods, exercise, and take their medicines every day can control their blood pressure.

Take your blood pressure medicines.

It is important to take your blood pressure medicines every day. Take your medicines even when your blood pressure comes down ? even when you do not feel bad. Do not stop taking your medicine until your doctor says that it is OK.

Most people who take high blood pressure medicines do not get any side effects. Like all medicines, high blood pressure medicines can sometimes cause side effects. Some people have common problems like headaches, dizziness or an upset stomach. These problems are small compared to what could happen if you do not take your medicine.

Understanding your blood pressure -- What do the numbers mean?

When you have your blood pressure taken, you are told 2 numbers, like 120/80. Both numbers are important.

The first number is your pressure when your heart beats (systolic pressure).

The second number is your pressure when your heart relaxes (diastolic pressure).

High Blood Pressure Medicines

Use this guide to help you talk to your doctor about your blood pressure medicines. Ask your doctor about the risks of taking your medicine. This guide only talks about some of the risks.Tell your doctor about any problems you are having. Also, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, nursing or planning to get pregnant. Your doctor will help you find the medicine that is best for you.

The different kinds of blood pressure medicines are listed below. The drugs are listed in groups. The brand names and generic names are given for the drugs in each group.Find your drug. Then read some basic information about your kind of drug.

Types of High Blood Pressure Medicines

  • ACE Inhibitors
  • Beta Blockers
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Peripherally Acting Alpha-Adrenergic Blockers
  • Angiotension II Antagonists
  • Vasodilators
  • Centrally-Acting Alpha Adrenergics
  • Combination Drugs
  • Diuretics (sometimes called "water pills")
  • Renin Inhibitors

Angiotension-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

Brand Name Generic Name
Aceon Perindopril
Accupril Quinapril
Altace Ramipril
Capoten Captopril
Lotensin Benazepril
Mavik Trandolapril
Monopril Fosinopril
Prinivil Lisinopril
Univasc Moexipril
Vasotec Enalapril
Vasotec IV Enalaprilat
Zestril Lisinopril

ACE Inhibitors: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • Women who are pregnant should talk to their doctor about the risks of using these drugs late in pregnancy.
  • People who have kidney or liver problems, diabetes, or heart problems should talk to their doctor about the risks of using ACE drugs.
  • People taking diuretics (water pills) should talk to their doctor about the risks of using ACE drugs.

Common Side Effects

  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fast heart beat

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Problems breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling in the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or legs

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Beta Blockers

Brand Name Generic Name
Bystolic Nebivolol
  Timolol
Coreg Carvedilol
Corgard Nadolol
Inderal Propranolol
Inderal LA Propranolol
Kerlone Betaxolol
Levatol Penbutolol
Lopressor Metoprolol
Sectral Acebutolol
Tenormin Atenolol
Toprol XL Metoprolol
Trandate Labetalol
Visken Pindolol
Zebeta Bisoprolol

Beta-Blockers: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • Do not use these drugs if you have slow heart rate, heart block or shock.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing should talk to their doctor before they start using Beta-Blockers.
  • The elderly and people who have kidney or liver problems, asthma, diabetes or overactive thyroid should talk to their doctor about the specific risks of using any of these Beta-Blockers.

Common Side Effects

  • Feeling tired
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation/ Diarrhea
  • Feeling lightheaded

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Problems breathing
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling in the hands, feet, or legs

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Calcium Channel Blockers

Brand Name Generic Name
Norvasc Amlodipine
Cleviprex Clevidipine
Cardizem Diltiazem
Dilacor XR Diltiazem
Tiazac Diltiazem
Plendil Felodipine
DynaCirc CR Isradipine
Cardene Nicardipine
Adalat CC Nifedipine
Procardia Nifedipine
Nimotop Nimodipine
Sular Nisoldipine
Calan Verapamil
Covera HS Verapamil
Isoptin Verapamil
Verelan Verapamil

Calcium Channel Blockers: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • Do not use calcium channel blockers if you have a heart condition or if you are taking nitrates, quinidine, or fentanyl.
  • People who have liver or kidney problems should talk to their doctor about the specific risks of using any Calcium Channel Blocker.
  • Women who are pregnant should not use these drugs late in pregnancy.

Common Side Effects

  • Feeling drowsy
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Ankle swelling
  • Feeling flushed (warm)

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Serious rashes
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, arms, or legs
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Peripherally Acting Alpha-Adrenergic Blockers

Brand Name Generic Name
Cardura Doxazosin
Dibenzyline Phenoxybenzamine
Minipress Prazosin
Hytrin Terazosin

Peripherally Acting Alpha-Adrenergic Blockers: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • The elderly and people who have liver problems should talk to their doctor about the risks of using these drugs.

Common Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Vision problems
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or legs
  • Decreased sexual ability

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Painful erection in men

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Vasodilators

Brand Name Generic Name
  Hydralazine
Loniten Minoxidil

Vasodilators: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • Do not use these drugs if you are also taking bisulfates.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing should talk to their doctor before they start using these drugs.
  • People who have diabetes, heart disease, or uremia (build up of waste in your blood) should talk to their doctor about the risks of using any of these drugs.
  • People taking diuretics (water pills), insulin, phenytoin, corticosteroids, estrogen, warfarin, or progesterone should talk to their doctor about the risks of using any of these drugs.

Common Side Effects

  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Growth in body hair

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Fever
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Problems breathing
  • Sudden weight gain

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Angiotension II Antagonists

Brand Name Generic Name
Atacand Candesartan
Avapro Irbesartan
Benicar Olmesartan
Cozaar Losartan
Diovan Valsartan
Micardis Telmisartan
Teveten Eprosartan

Angiotension II Antagonists: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • Do not use these drugs if you are pregnant or nursing
  • People who have kidney disease, liver disease, low blood volume, or low salt in their blood should talk to their doctor about the risks of taking these drugs.
  • People taking diuretics (water pills) should talk to their doctor about the risks of taking these drugs.

Common Side Effects

  • Sore throat
  • Sinus problems
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Problems breathing
  • Fainting
  • Swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or legs

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Centrally-Acting Alpha Adrenergics

Brand Name Generic Name
Catapres Clonidine
Tenex Guanfacine

Centrally-Acting Alpha Adrenergics: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • Women who are pregnant or nursing should talk to their doctor before using these drugs.
  • People with heart disease, recent heart attack, or kidney disease should talk to their doctor before using these drugs.
  • Drinking alcohol may make side effects worse.

Common Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach
  • Feeling drowsy or tired

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Fainting
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Swollen ankles or feet

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Combination Medicines

Brand Name Generic Name
Diovan HCT Hydrochlorothiazide
and
Valsartan
Exforge Amlodipine
and
Valsartan
Hyzaar Hydrochlorothiazide
and
Losartan
Lexxel Enalapril
and
Felodipine
Lotrel Benazepril
and
Amlodipine
Tarka Verapamil
and
Trandolapril

Combination Drugs: What You Should Know

  • These medicines are made up of 2 different kinds of blood pressure medicines.
  • Look for the generic names of these drugs on one of the other lists in this guide.

Warnings and Side Effects

  • The warnings and side effects for these drugs will be the same as those listed earlier for both generic drugs.

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Other Combination Medicines

Brand Name Generic Name
Caduet Amlodipine and Atorvastatin

Caduet is used to treat people who have both high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Warnings

  • Do not take Caduet if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
  • Do not take Caduet if you are breastfeeding.
  • Do not take Caduet if you have liver problems.

Common Side Effects

  • Swelling of the Legs or Ankles (edema)
  • Muscle or Joint Pain
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Feeling Dizzy
  • Feeling Tired or Sleepy
  • Gas
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Pain
  • Fast or Irregular Heartbeat
  • Face feels Hot or Warm (flushing)

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Muscle Problems like Weakness, Tenderness, or Pain that happens without a good reason (like exercise or injury)
  • Brown or Dark-colored Urine
  • Skin or Eyes look Yellow (jaundice)
  • Feel More Tired than Usual

Diuretics (sometimes called "water pills")

Brand Name Generic Name
Aldactazide
Aldactone
Spironolactone
Demadex Torsemide
Diuril Chlorothiazide
Enduron Methyclothiazide
Esidrix
Microzide
Oretic
Hydrochlorothiazide
Lasix Furosemide
Lozol Indapamide
Saluron Hydroflumethiazide
Thalitone Chlorthalidone
Zaroxolyn Metolazone

Diuretics: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • Tell you doctor if you are breastfeeding. These medicines may pass into your breast milk.
  • Do not use these medicines if you have problems making urine.
  • People with kidney or liver problems, pregnant women, and the elderly should talk to their doctor about the risks of using diuretics.

Common Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Frequent urination
  • Headache
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Muscle cramps
  • Upset stomach

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Severe rash
  • Problems breathing or swallowing
  • Hyperuricemia (Gout)

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Renin Inhibitors

Brand Name Generic Name
Tekturna Aliskiren

Renin Inhibitors: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should talk to their doctor before using this drug.
  • People with kidney problems should talk to their doctor before using this drug.
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking water pills (diuretics), high blood pressure medicines, heart medicines, or medicines to treat a fungus.

Common Side Effects

  • Diarrhea

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyes or tongue

For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • What drugs am I taking?
  • What are the side effects?
  • What other prescription drugs should I avoid while taking my medicines?
  • What foods, herbs, or over-the-counter medicines should I avoid?
  • When should I take each drug? How many times per day do I take each drug?
  • Can I take my medicines if I am pregnant or nursing?

To Learn More

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Health Information Center
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/index.htm#hbp
Phone: 301-592-8573
TTY: 240-629-3255

Federal Relay Service:1-800-877-8339

This information reflects FDA's current analysis of data available to FDA concerning these products. FDA intends to update this sheet when additional information or analyses become available.

For the most recent information about each drug, check Drugs@FDA.



  
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This article was provided by U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Visit the FDA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
 
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