Blood pressure medicines

Also called antihypertensives

Medicines can help you control high blood pressure and reduce damage from it. Usually you need to take blood pressure medicine for the rest of your life. Here are some tips on how to take your blood pressure medicines.

On this page, you can find the following information:

Tips on how to take your blood pressure medicines 

  • Take your medicine regularly. Get into a routine and take your pills at the same time every day, to help you remember to take them. Try using a pillbox marked with the days of the week and fill it at the beginning of each week to make it easier to remember.
  • Don't let your supply run out. Get your prescription before you run out and make sure you have enough for weekends and public holidays.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not take 2 doses to make up for the dose you missed.
  • Don't stop taking your blood pressure medicine suddenly. If you feel unwell or have any side effects, tell your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new medicines or supplements. Blood pressure medicines can interact with other medicines and herbal supplements. 
  • Be careful taking pain relief medicines or anti-inflammatories while you are on blood pressure medicines. This includes ibuprofen and diclofenac.
Avoid taking these medicines together
AVOID anti-inflammatories if you are taking ACE inhibitors AND diuretics, OR ARBs AND diuretics. Taking them together can damage your kidneys. Read more about anti-inflammatories and blood pressure medicines.

There are different groups or classes of medicines that can be used to lower blood pressure. Each of these groups work differently. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any side effects you may have and follow instructions carefully. 

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

ACE inhibitors block a hormone in your blood that causes your blood vessels to tighten. In this way, they relax your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure. Read more about ACE inhibitors

Examples of ACE inhibitors
  • Captopril
  • Cilazapril
  • Enalapril
  • Lisinopril
  • Perindopril
  • Quinapril
  • Trandolapril 

Angiotensin receptor blockers (also called ARBs)

These also control hormones that affect your blood pressure. Examples include:

  • candesartan
  • irbesartan
  • losartan.

Read more about ARBs.

Beta blockers

These medicines are often used to reduce blood pressure when other options are not suitable or not working well enough. Read more about beta blockers.

Examples of beta blockers
  • Atenolol
  • Bisoprolol
  • Carvedilol
  • Celiprolol
  • Labetalol
  • Metoprolol
  • Propranolol

Calcium channel blockers

These medicines block calcium from getting into your cells and in this way relax your blood vessels and your lower blood pressure. Read more about calcium channel blockers.

Examples of calcium channel blockers 
  • Amlodipine
  • Diltiazem
  • Felodipine
  • Isradipine
  • Nifedipine
  • Verapamil

Diuretics 

Diuretics are commonly called ‘water pills’. They remove unwanted fluid from your body, which helps lower your blood pressure. Examples include:

  • furosemide
  • bumetanide
  • bendroflumethiazide
  • chlortalidone
  • indapamide

Read more about diuretics.

Choosing the right blood pressure medicines for you

Research shows that some types of blood pressure medicines work better for different types of people. The choice of blood pressure medicines can depend on your:

  • age
  • ethnicity
  • health conditions (such as kidney disease or angina)
  • medical history, such as which blood pressure medicines you have tried in the past.

Since everyone is different, some medicines work better for others than they do for you. Your doctor and nurse will usually go through a number of steps to find the right blood pressure medicines for you. Often 2 or 3 medicines are needed and it may take time to find the right combination and dosage.

Side effects

Medicines used to treat high blood pressure can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. It is important to let your doctor or pharmacist know about any side effects you may have and to follow instructions carefully.

Sometimes your medicines may lower your blood pressure too much, and you may feel faint or dizzy. This is quite common when you first start the medicine and usually goes way with time. These effects puts you at risk of falls and injuries, especially if your are an older adult. Be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting to avoid falls. Stand up slowly. If you do feel dizzy, sit or lie down for a few moments. Tell your doctor if this continues.

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist.