A number of different types of drugs are used in the treatment of hypertension. These drugs, which are collectively known as antihypertensives, treat hypertension in different ways, such as by reducing the amount of fluid in the blood vessels or decreasing the strength of the heartbeat. The antihypertensive side effects that a patient experiences will vary widely depending on what type of antihypertensive that patient is taking. Some of the more common side effects include dizziness, headache, and low blood pressure.
Beta blockers are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs used to treat hypertension. The antihypertensive side effects of these drugs can be severe, with the most common side effect being low blood pressure. In some patients, the blood pressure becomes so low that the patient becomes dizzy when standing or loses some stamina. Occasionally, patients can experience heart failure due to low blood pressure with the use of beta blockers. These drugs can also cause a patient's airway to constrict, especially those patients who have asthma.
Hypertension is also frequently treated with the use of diuretics. These medications reduce the pressure on the blood vessels by reducing the amount of fluid in the blood vessels. Nutrients, especially potassium, can be pulled out of the body along with the fluid, making hypokalemia one of the most common antihypertensive side effects associated with the use of diuretics. Additionally, patients who take these drugs may experience gastrointestinal difficulties, dehydration, or metabolic alkalosis, which is an increase in the pH in a patient's body.
Antihypertensive side effects can also be experienced in patients who use alpha blockers to treat their hypertension. These drugs function in a similar manner to beta blockers in that they attach to epinephrine receptors on the heart to block some of this hormone's effects. Patients who use these medications may experience hypotension when they stand up, leading to dizziness or fainting. Headaches, congestion, and fluid retention are also frequently experienced. Patients with severe fluid retention are often given diuretics in conjunction with alpha blockers to help eliminate some of the extra fluid in the patient's bloodstream.
Calcium plays a major role in the strength of the heartbeat. Hypertensive patients may also be given calcium-channel blockers to help lower the intensity of the heartbeat and thus the blood pressure. The antihypertensive side effects of these drugs can include headache, flushing of the face, and low blood pressure. The low blood pressure in patients who are taking calcium-channel blockers has been linked to a rapid heartbeat. These drugs can also cause fluid to become trapped under the skin, especially in the lower limbs, leading to an uncomfortable condition known as edema.