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Alpha Blockers- A Commonly Used Medication To Lower BP

Diuretics, Beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers…these are just some categories of medicines that are used to lower blood pressure. Yet another category of medicine that is used to treat high BP or hypertension is alpha blockers. Though alpha blockers are not the first choice to treat high BP, they are commonly used to lower blood pressure.

What are alpha blockers?
Alpha blockers is a category of medicine used to lower blood pressure. They work by reducing the nerve impulses that are sent to the blood vessels. This allows the blood to pass more easily through the vessels. As a result, blood pressure comes down.

Along with treating high blood pressure, alpha blockers are also used to treat enlarged prostate, thickening of the skin, some circulatory conditions and adrenal gland tumors. Some of the most commonly used alpha blockers include Doxazosin, Prazosin, Treazosin, Tamulosin and several others.

How do they help reduce blood pressure?
This category of medications also helps keep the smaller blood vessels open. They block the hormone called noradrenaline. This hormone tightens the muscles that is present in the walls of arteries and veins. Blocking of the hormone prevents the arteries from tightening and keeps the blood vessels open. This helps improve the flow of blood and subsequently brings down the blood pressure.

Are there any different categories of this medicine?
Alpha blockers can be broadly divided into two main categories i.e. short acting and long acting. The short acting works quickly and brings down your blood pressure in few hours. However, the effect of these medications does not last for long. On the other hand, long acting alpha blockers take a little while to show results. Doctors will choose either of the categories of this medication depending upon your overall health.

Are they safe?
Like other blood pressure lowering medications, alpha blockers too have their own side effects. On initial usage they may cause low blood pressure along with a feeling of dizziness. Headache, increased LDL, pounding heartbeat, nausea, weakness etc are some of the side effects that you may have to deal with on using this category of medications.

A recent study also reveals that prolonged use of alpha blockers can also increase the risk of heart failure. This is perhaps why alpha blockers are not used as the first line of treatment to lower high blood pressure.

How to use?
Alpha blockers are prescription medications and should only be taken on the recommendation of a doctor. The doctor will suggest a dosage depending upon the overall health condition. They are used along with other drugs to bring the blood pressure under control. Typically, alpha blockers are not preferred as the first line of treatment.