High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is diagnosed if a person’s blood pressure reading is equal to or greater than 130/80 mm Hg. A diagnosis of high blood pressure is usually based on the average of two or more readings taken on separate occasions. Medicines for High Blood Pressure are called Anti-hypertensive drugs. There are a lot of commonly used Anti-hypertensive drugs available in Singapore. However, the type of medicine used to treat high blood pressure may depend on the person’s overall health and how high their blood pressure is. Two or more anti-hypertensive drugs are often used in combination to produce better results. It can take some time to find the medicine or combination of medicines that work best for each individual.
Five Major Categories Of Medicines For High Blood Pressure
There are five major categories of medicines for High Blood Pressure that have been proven effective in treating hypertension:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Beta blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
Diuretics, also known as “water pills,” help relieve pressure on your blood vessels by prompting the kidneys to remove excess water and salt from your body. They are often the first medicines used to treat high blood pressure and are commonly used in combination with other antihypertensive drugs. There are different classes of diuretics, including thiazide, loop, and potassium-sparing.
Examples of Diuretics:
- Thiazide Diuretics – Hydrochlorothiazide
- Loop Diuretics – Furosemide
- Potassium Sparring Diuretics – Spironolactone
Angiotensin-Converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) works by dilating/widening the blood vessels thereby aiding in easy blood flow and lowering blood pressure. ACE inhibitors are used as a first-line treatment of hypertension in patients with a variety of conditions, such as high risk of coronary disease, history of diabetes, heart failure, myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, or chronic kidney disease. ACE inhibitors commonly end in the suffix “-pril”.
Examples of ACE Inhibitors:
- Captopril (Catoplin), Enalapril (Anapril), and Perindopril (Coversyl)
Angiotensin 2 Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
Angiotensin 2 Receptor blockers also help widen blood vessels by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels. ARBs commonly end in the suffix “-sartan”.
Examples of ARBs:
- Losartan (Cozaar), Telmisartan (Micardis) and Irbesartan (Aprovel)
Beta Blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, reducing the workload on the heart and widening the blood vessels. This helps the heart beat slower and with less force. Beta Blockers are also used to treat arrhythmia, a condition characterized by abnormal heart rhythm. Beta Blockers commonly end in the suffix “-lol”.
Examples of Beta Blockers:
- Atenolol (Vascoten), Bisoprolol (Concor), Metoprolol (Denex), Carvedilol (Dilatrend) and Nebivolol (Nebilet)
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers work by preventing calcium from entering the cells of the heart and blood vessels. Calcium causes the heart and blood vessels to squeeze (contract) more strongly. By blocking calcium, calcium channel blockers allow blood vessels to relax and open. Calcium Channel Blockers are also used to treat arrhythmia and angina, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart.
Examples of Calcium Channel Blockers:
- Amlodipine (Norvasc), Diltiazem (Herbesser), Verapamil (Isoptin SR)
Cost of Medicines for High Blood Pressure
The Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore compiles a list of suggested retail prices of commonly prescribed medications and their suggested retail price range, for general reference. They note that the prices are obtained from community pharmacy chains, and not from public hospitals or polyclinics. They note also that prices may differ due to varying volume of sales at different pharmacies.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.