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What Asthmatics Should Know About Blood Pressure Medication

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 9/2/2010

Asthma and high blood pressure are common diseases which a patient can suffer at the same time. As medications are taken regularly for both diseases, one medication may have an effect on the other condition. Find out if there is a relationship between asthma and blood pressure medication.

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    About Asthma and High Blood Pressure

    Asthma is a respiratory problem characterized by swelling and constriction of the airway often due to chronic inflammations of the bronchial tubes. The narrowing of the bronchial tubes can either be total or partial, but the common outcome is difficulty of breathing. Many asthma patients take medications regularly to prevent asthma attacks and its complications.

    Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is the increase in the tension of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. It is often caused by genetic and environmental factors, such as diet, smoking and sedentary lifestyle. Affected individuals are usually prescribed with medications to take regularly in order to maintain a normal blood pressure and prevent stroke complications.

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    List of Blood Pressure Medications

    Blood pressure medications are generally given to lower blood pressure. Here are common drugs prescribed by cardiologists in the treatment of hypertension:

    • ACE inhibitors slow down the action of ACE enzymes that produce angiotensin II, a chemical that causes narrowing of blood vessels. As a result, the vessels dilate and blood pressure decreases.

    • Beta-blockers lower blood pressure by causing widening of the blood vessels, resulting in a reduced heart rate and cardiac output.

    • Adrenergic blockers decrease the resistance in the blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.

    • Calcium channel blockers reduce the pressure on the wall of the arteries by dilating them.

    • Diuretics flush out excess sodium and water from the body that can relieve congestion of organs such as the heart.

    • Vasodilators also cause widening of blood vessels resulting in a lower blood pressure.
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    How Blood Pressure Medication May Affect Asthmatics

    The presence of these two conditions can pose challenges in treatment because the most effective blood pressure medications may have a negative effect on asthma. Physicians are always careful in prescribing medications to these patients.

    Among the list of hypertensive drugs, ACE inhibitors and beta blockers can have a negative effect on asthmatic people. Asthma patients on medications who are also taking diuretics for treatment of high blood pressure are often monitored for their potassium blood levels as both medications can lower the level of potassium in the blood.

    Side-effects of Ace Inhibitors include the development of a persistent, dry cough. It occurs in 20% of people using the drug. This cough is a result of an activity in the respiratory tract which can cause symptoms equivalent to asthma. Because of this, ACE inhibitors are not often given to patients suffering from both asthma and hypertension.

    Likewise, beta blockers are not given to people with both asthma and hypertension. This drug lowers blood pressure by widening blood vessels. However, it also causes constriction in the respiratory passages. The effects of the drug may be desirable for the heart but can be dangerous to the respiration of the patient.

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    References

    MedicineNet.com: What is Asthma?

    MedicineNet.com High Blood Pressure? (Hypertension)