The common blood pressure medicines that are prescribed by physicians are angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, and diuretics. Though these medicines are found to be beneficial for heart health, they can have side effects ranging from mild discomfort like headache and lethargy, rash, nausea, cough, feeling nervous and dizzy, diarrhea or constipation, irritability, sedation, hyperuricemia, and angioedema to depression, vivid dreams, hallucinations, impotence, hypokalemia, renal impairment, hyperglycemia, hypotension, and tachycardia.
Care should be taken while taking these medications with pre-existing ailments like diabetes, history of gout, impaired liver function and severe renal disease as they can aggravate the condition.1 Let us now look into how some of the antihypertensives prescribed as medication for treating high blood pressure can cause other health issues.
1. Hypertension Medication Cause Psychological Issues
Excessive mental stress and a stressful daily routine can cause your blood pressure to soar to higher levels. Hypertension is a silent killer as it brings with it a bunch of other health problems like stroke, paralysis, brain hemorrhage, heart attack, and the like. ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, and diuretics are the commonly prescribed medicines for controlling high blood pressure. Although diuretics and beta blockers are excellent and safe medications prescribed for this condition, occasionally, fatigue or lightheadedness, diarrhea, cold, depression, and a slow pulse rate can occur.
You may develop insomnia, hallucinations, anxiety, confusion, depression, or breathing difficulties infrequently. Rapid heartbeat; dizziness; nausea; swollen feet, ankles, or legs; and constipation can occur with calcium channel blockers. A cough or other side effects can develop with the use of ACE inhibitors and cannot be used during pregnancy because they cause birth defects.2
2. ACE Inhibitors Can Cause Hypotension
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are one of the classes of drugs that have not been reported with too many adverse side effects. They are effective in reducing arterial stiffness and improving endothelial function. However, some of the most common side effects reported are a cough, rash, temporary hypotension, and taste impairment. They must also be used with great caution in people with renal impairment. Other commonly observed side effects include a dry cough, headache, dizziness and gastrointestinal disturbances like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Raised serum creatinine levels and raised blood urea nitrogen levels are observed with use of ACE inhibitors. Hence, you should often check the chemical balance in your body if you are taking this medication. The loss of taste can present a loss of control of hypertension as you tend to increase salt intake when you begin to lose taste. This can lead to a rare, but life-threating, that can cause fluid to leak from blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. Severe swelling can cause breathing difficulties. Milder reactions like rash and fever can also occur in response to the first dose of this medication.3
3. Calcium Channel Blockers Cause Tachycardia And Headaches
Calcium channel blockers can dilate arteries by reducing the calcium entering the heart and blood vessels. They relax the heart muscle, making it easier for the heart to pump blood around the body. But, this type of medication can have adverse effects like tachycardia, a condition that makes the heart to beat faster and irregularly than the normal rate, so much so that the heart stops pumping blood.
They can also cause facial flushing, headaches, edema, dizziness, nausea, rash, drowsiness, and constipation. Calcium channel blockers may have adverse effects on the fetal and placental circulation, resulting in growth restriction, acidosis, and stillbirth when used in pregnancy. Another major side-effect is ankle edema that causes swelling in the ankles, legs, or the feet.4
4. Beta Blockers Increase The Risk Of Heart Failure
Beta-adrenergic blocking drugs are widely used for the treatment of high blood pressure. Though they are efficient for their antihypertensive effect, they cause metabolic and psychiatric side effects. Beta blockers can cause insomnia, fatigue, depression, hallucinations and exercise intolerance. They can also cause a reduction in the cardiac output and heart rate which increases the risk of heart failure.
They induce hypokalemia, a low level of potassium in the body, and hypoglycemia, a low level of blood glucose, that may be responsible for mental status changes. Beta blockers might be the culprit here if you are lacking your normal energy. You also might not feel like working out and end up gaining weight as beta blockers reduce nerve signals to the heart and blood vessels. Asthma, erectile dysfunction, and an increased likelihood of developing diabetes are other side effects that can be difficult to manage.5
5. Diuretics Cause Metabolic Side Effects
Diuretics are prescribed for hypertension to reduce arterial pressure. They work by removing the excess water in your body in the form of urine. The pressure in your blood vessels and the heart lowers when the excess water is expelled from the body. Though they can help in reducing the pressure for a longer time period, they cause unwanted biochemical effects in the body like hypokalemia leading to arrhythmias which can be dangerous at times, hyperuricemia leading to gout, hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, reduced renal excretory function and hyperlipidemia.
Common side effects of diuretics include dizziness, sedation, tremors, anxiety, depression, and confusion. They can also cause hypotension and sexual impotence.6 Awareness of the mentioned side effects of the different types of antihypertensives prescribed for treating high blood pressure is essential before you proceed with the treatment.
Also, some of these medicines can aggravate existing ailments or cause birth defects and stillbirth in pregnancy. So, inform your medical practitioner of your existing conditions or pregnancy if you are prescribed these medications for treating high blood pressure.
|↑1||Nickells, James, Tobias Everett, and Benjamin Walton. SBAs for the Final FRCA. Cambridge University Press, 2010.|
|↑2||Carlson, Karen J., Stephanie A. Eisenstat, and Terra Diane Ziporyn. The new Harvard guide to women’s health. Vol. 1. Harvard University Press, 2004.|
|↑3||Strube, Gillian. ACE Inhibitors in Hypertension: A Guide for General Practitioners. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012|
|↑4||Godfraind, Theophile. “Calcium Channel Blockers.” Springer Science & Business Media, 2004.|
|↑5||Mann, Samuel J. “Hypertension and You: Old Drugs, New Drugs, and the Right Drugs for Your High Blood Pressure.” Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.|
|↑6||Frohlich, Edward D. “Diuretics in hypertension.” (1987): S43-50.|