Guidelines for treating blood pressure slightly differ in different countries and keep evolving. Usually, initial antihypertensive treatment includes a thiazide-type diuretic, calcium channel blocker (CCB), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI), or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB). Addition of the third or fourth drug may be in the form of spironolactone (requires the assessment of renal functions and potassium), minoxidil, hydralazine, or carvedilol.
In population 60 and older, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends pharmacologic treatment to lower BP initiated at a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 150 mmHg or higher or a DBP diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 90 mmHg or higher. American Heart Association recommends this for ages 80 and older.
Diuretics and calcium-blocking drugs are more effective in elderly patients at lowering SBP pressure.
Types of blood pressure drugs:
- Diuretics (water pills) - substances promoting the production of urine, the original antihypertensives.
- thiazide diuretics
- loop diuretics
- potassium-sparing diuretics
- Beta-blockers - block the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
- Alpha blockers
- Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist
- Combined alpha and beta-blockers
- Central agonists - prevent brain from speeding up heart rate & narrowing blood vessels.
- Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors
- Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators)