Blood Pressure Medications

Updated:May 29,2014

Excerpted from "What's New with Your Blood Pressure?", Stroke Connection Magazine September/October 2003 (Last science update April 2014)

When diet and exercise aren’t enough to control high blood pressure, doctors prescribe one or more types of medicines. Doctors choose medications carefully to match patients’ profiles.

The major types of high blood pressure medicines include:


  • Lower blood pressure by helping the body get rid of excess fluid.
  • Often the doctor’s first choice and the least expensive drugs used to treat high b
  • Often used in combination with other medicines.


  • Block adrenaline from binding to heart muscle, lowering the pulse.
  • Also used to treat heart disease, migraine headaches and irregular heart rhythms.

Calcium Channel Blockers

  • Open blood vessels by reducing the flow of calcium ions into vessel walls, allowing blood to flow more easily.

ACE Inhibitors

  • Relax your arteries by reducing the production of a hormone that constricts vascular walls.
  • Help control congestive heart failure, other heart problems and diabetes.
  • ACE inhibitors should not be used during pregnancy.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

  • Block the effects of angiotensin.
  • ARBs should not be used during pregnancy.


  • Open the blood vessels and allows blood to flow more easily
  • Work much like beta-blockers to reduce adrenaline's effect on heart muscle.
  • Used for other medical conditions such as prostrate problems.
Read more comprehensive information about blood pressure medications.

This content was last reviewed on 04/30/2014.