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Which medicines might I need?

There are lots of different medicines to treat high blood pressure. But some of the medicines have other health benefits besides lowering blood pressure.

Your doctor or nurse will decide which medicine is best for you depending on:

  • How high your blood pressure is
  • Your other health problems, if you have any
  • How well you do on the medicines you try

Your doctor or nurse might need to change your medicine or its dose a couple of times to find the medicine and dose that work best and cause the fewest side effects. Plus, you might need to take more than 1 medicine to get your blood pressure under control. Whatever your doctor or nurse prescribes, it’s important to take your medicines exactly as prescribed (table 1). But always let your doctor or nurse know if you have any problems with the medicines. That way he or she can make changes so that you are as comfortable as possible and also get the most benefit. Never stop or make changes to the way you take your medicines without talking to your doctor or nurse first.

Below is a list of the most common types of medicine given to people with high blood pressure:

  • Medicines called “diuretics”
  • Medicines called “angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors” (“ACE inhibitors”) or “angiotensin receptor blockers” (“ARBs”)
  • Medicines called “calcium channel blockers”
  • Medicines called “beta blockers”

This article has only some basic information on these medicines. For more detailed information about your medicines, ask your doctor or nurse for information from Lexicomp, available through UpToDate. The Lexicomp hand-outs explain how to use and store your medicines.

They also list possible side effects and warn you if your medicines should not be taken with certain other medicines or foods.