ACE inhibitors prevent the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes the blood vessels to narrow, which makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the organs of the body. Since ACE inhibitors block the formation of this substance, they relax the blood vessels and make it easier for the heart to work. Examples of ACE inhibitors include enalaptil, lisinopril, benazepril and quinapril.
Diuretics, also known as “water pills,” remove excess fluid and sodium from the bloodstream. Excess fluid increases blood volume, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. Excess sodium causes fluid retention, which also increases blood volume. After excess fluid leaves the body in the urine, it is easier for the heart to pump blood, and blood pressure decreases. Examples of diuretics include hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide and amiloride.
Beta-blockers treat blood pressure, migraines and anxiety. These drugs block the effects of adrenaline on the heart muscle, which slows down the transmission of nerve impulses through the heart. This reduces blood pressure and lowers heart rate, which also help reduce anxiety. Beta-blockers are particularly effect for anxiety when the anxiety experienced is stage fright or performance anxiety. Propranolol, metoprolol and bisoprolol are examples of beta-blocker drugs.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers reduce the effects of calcium on the heart and blood vessels. These drugs allow the blood vessels to relax and widen, making it easier for blood to flow through the arteries. Some of these drugs also reduce heart rate, which helps treat cardiac arrhythmia and angina (chest pain). Short-acting calcium channel blockers work quickly, but the effects only last for a few hours. This means you may need to take more than one dose each day. Long-acting medications provide a lasting effect because the drugs slowly enter the bloodstream. Examples of calcium channel blockers include amlodipine, felodipine, verapamil and isradapine.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers
Angiotensin II receptor blockers do not prevent the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II like beta-blockers do. Instead, these drugs block the effects of angiotensin II so the blood vessels widen. This makes it easier for the heart to function and reduces blood pressure. Since angiotensin II also triggers a hormone that increases the amount of fluid and sodium in the body, angiotensin II receptor blockers can also reduce swelling (edema) associated with high blood pressure. Examples of ARBs include valsartan, losartan, irbesartan and telmisartan.
WebMD. Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors. Accessed December 31, 2009.
Discovery Health: Diuretics. Accessed December 31, 2009.
Mayo Clinic: Calcium Channel Blockers. Accessed December 31, 2009.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Types of Blood Pressure Medications. Accessed December 31, 2009.
Mayo Clinic: Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers. Accessed December 31, 2009.