3 years

I was just diagnosed with hypertension

Doctor, I was just diagnosed with hypertension and was given medication. What are the side effects of these meds? Are they safe?

Dr Ramzdhan,

4 years

Hi, thank you for your question. Different types of anti-hypertensive medications will have different side effects.

Some common anti-hypertensive drug classes and their side effects are listed below. Angiotension-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can cause dry cough which usually goes away with continued use, kidney impairment, and hypotension (low blood pressure) leading to dizziness, headache and fainting.

Angiotension II receptor blockers (ARB) can cause hyperkalemia (high potassium level), dizziness, fatigue, upper respiratory tract infections, and kidney impairment. Beta blockers can cause bradycardia (slow heart rate), chest pain, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness. Calcium channel blockers can cause swelling in the ankles, postural hypotension (low blood pressure with changes in posture), flushing and headache.

Diuretics can cause hypokalemia (low potassium), hyponatremia (low sodium), increased risk of gout, postural hypotension, increased urination, and dehydration. Potassium-sparing diuretics can cause enlarged breast in males. Alpha blockers can cause postural hypotension, headache, increased heart rate, and nausea.

Central agonists can cause constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth, and headache. Methyldopa can cause dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headache and weakness. Vasodilators can cause headache, heart palpitation, joint pain, swelling around eyes and weight gain.

Hypertensive medications are generally safe. However, if you are pregnant, there are some hypertensive medications that must not be used because they can cause harm to the mother and the baby. These include ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers. If you have any worries regarding your medications, you may wish to consult your treating doctor. Let them if you are taking any other drugs so that any drug-drug interactions and unwanted side effects can be avoided.

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