Blood Pressure Complications

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You may need several medications to control high blood pressure.

This page includes a table of common medicines, along with their generic names and how they work to lower blood pressure.

High blood pressure damages blood vessels and, when combined with chronically high blood sugar, can increase the risk of complications. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes maintain blood pressures of less than 140/90 mmHg.

High blood pressure

Your blood pressure can be controlled through:

  • Medication (several may be needed)
  • Exercise
  • Stress reduction
  • Salt restriction
  • Weight loss

When you have diabetes, the preferred classes of medications for the treatment of high blood pressure are angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE) and angiotensin receptor inhibitors (ARBS). A common side effect of ACE inhibitor drugs is a dry cough, and both ACEs and ARBs may cause your body to retain too much potassium and raise your creatinine. Testing your blood for increased potassium and creatinine is recommended after starting these medicines. Talk with your medical provider about which blood pressure medication is best for you, and how to monitor if the pill is working properly.

Medicines for the treatment of high blood pressure

Name of medicineExamples (generic and trade names)How they work to lower blood pressure
Angiotensin Converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Captopril (Capoten)
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Benazepril (Lotensin)
  • Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • Quinapril (Accupril)
  • Ramipril (Altace)
  • Trandolapril (Mavik)
Work on the renin-angiotensin system
Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Losartan (Cozaar)
  • Valsartan (Diovan)
  • Olmesartan (Benicar)
  • Irbesartan (Avapro)
  • Candesartan (Atacand)
  • Telmisartan (Micardis)
Work on the renin-angiotensin system
Beta Blockers
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor)
  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Carvedilol (Coreg)
Work on blood vessel walls, blocking the action of the sympathetic nervous system, reducing blood pressure
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ)
  • Furosemide (Lasix)
Reduce blood pressure by increasing the amount of salt and water removed by the kidney
Calcium channel blockers
  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • Nifedipine (Adalat, procardia)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem)
Work on the smooth muscles of the blood vessels, making them relax and so reducing blood pressure
Alfa blockers
  • Doxazosin (Cardura)
  • Terazosin (Hytrin)
Also work on the blood vessel walls, causing the blood vessels to dilate and therefore reduce blood pressure
Central alpha agonist
  • Clonidine (Catapres)
Works in the central nervous system inhibiting the sympathetic system

Reproduced from “Diabetes DeMystified” by Umesh Masharani, McGraw-Hill 2007.

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