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Introduction

Make a complete list of all of your medications. This includes all over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, vitamins, diet or herbal supplements as well as inhalers and insulin. Make sure to include the name of the medication as well as the strength, the dose, and how often you take it. Always bring this list with you to all of your clinic appointments, emergency department visits and hospital visits. A sample medication list is below. Blank medication lists are available in the “Additional Information” section of this booklet.

Medication Name Strength Dose Frequency
Lisinopril 20 mg 2 tablets Every morning
Multivitamin 1 tablet Every morning
Vitamin C 1000 mg 1 tablet Every morning

Remember to take your medications!

Always remember to take all of your medications as instructed by your provider. Some find that using a pillbox or setting a reminder on their phone helps them remember to take their medication. If you think that using a pillbox will help you remember to take your medications but cannot afford one, please let us know.

Choosing the best medication(s)

Your provider may prescribe one or more medications to help control your blood pressure. A number of factors will be considered to help determine the best medication(s) for you, including your age, race, laboratory studies, blood pressure goal, other medication use and/or the presence of other medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or heart failure.

Common blood-pressure lowering medication(s)

Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitor (ACE-I)

Generic Name Dose How They Work Side Effects
Names ends in “pril” (lisinopril, enalapril) 1-2 times/day Lower blood pressure by widening blood vessels and helping blood flow easily Dry cough and increased potassium level are the most common side effects. Kidney function and potassium should be checked regularly by your provider. If you have swelling of the face or throat, then stop taking the medication and seek medical help immediately.

Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (ARB)

Generic Name Dose How They Work Side Effects
Names ends in “tan” (losartan, valsartan) 1-2 times/day Lower blood pressure by widening blood vessels and helping blood flow easily Increased potassium level is the most common side effect. Kidney function and potassium should be checked regularly by your provider. If you have swelling of the face or throat, then stop taking the medication and seek medical help immediately.

Calcium Channel Blocker

Generic Name Dose How They Work Side Effects
Common names include amlodipine, diltiazem and verapamil 1 time/day Lower blood pressure by reducing the amount of calcium that enters the heart and blood vessels, so blood vessels widen and blood can flow easily Headache and fluid retention are the most common side effects.

Diuretic

Generic Name Dose How They Work Side Effects
Common names include furosemide, chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide 1-3 times/day Lower blood pressure by removing excess salt and water from the body Frequent urination, dehydration, and dizziness are the most common side effects. Kidney function and electrolytes should be checked regularly by your provider.

Aldosterone Blocking Agents

Generic Name Dose How They Work Side Effects
Common names include spironolactone and eplerenone 1-2 times/day Lower blood pressure by reducing excess salt and water from the body Increased potassium level is the most common side effect. Kidney function and potassium should be checked regularly by your provider. Spironolactone may also cause breast enlargement or tenderness.

Beta Blockers

Generic Name Dose How They Work Side Effects
Names ends in “lol” (metoprolol, carvedilol) 1-2 times/day Lower blood pressure by making your heart beat more slowly and with less force Fatigue, shortness of breath and fluid retention are the most common side effects; however they should go away with time.

 

Other Medications

  • Alpha blockers (doxazosin, prazosin, terazosin)
  • Direct renin inhibitors (aliskiren)
  • Central alpha agonists (clonidine, methyldopa)
  • Direct vasodilators (hydralazine, minoxidil)

Medications to Avoid

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or naproxen (Aleve®). A better alternative may be acetaminophen (Tylenol®).
  • Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®), phenylephrine, or oxymetazoline (Afrin®). A better alternative may be saline nasal spray.
  • Herbal supplements and vitamins as they do not have the same regulations as prescription and over-the-counter medications. Also, they are usually not tested in humans, and the effects on the human body are not entirely known.