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There is a wide range of high blood pressure medicines. You can take more than one type of medicine because they each lower your blood pressure in different ways.
There are four main types of medicine that doctors use to treat high blood pressure:
ACE inhibitors: these medicines help to control hormones that affect blood pressure. Most of these medicines have names that end in “pril”
Angiotensin receptor blockers (or ARBs): these also control hormones that affect blood pressure. Most of these medicines have names that end in “artan”
Calcium channel blockers: these medicines make the artery walls relax, making them wider, which lowers blood pressure. Most of these medicines have names that in “pine”
Thiazide diuretics: these medicines remove unwanted fluid from the body, which helps lower blood pressure. Most of these medicines have names that end in “ide”.
Other types of blood pressure medicines
Until recently another type of drug, called beta-blockers, were often given to people with high blood pressure. Beta-blockers are not usually given as a first choice because the other types of blood pressure medicines appear to be better at reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. However, they may still be used if you have other health problems, because beta-blockers can be used to control those conditions. More on beta blockers...
There are other types of drugs which are not very commonly used, but which can help to lower your blood pressure (see below). These blood pressure medications may be used in special cases – for example if you are pregnant, or if you cannot take the medicines described above. Your doctor will decide which medications are best for you.
Non-standard blood pressure medicines
Combination blood pressure medicines
Taking more than one blood pressure medicine
Many people will need to take more than one medicine to fully control their blood pressure. This is because each type of medication works in a different way. None of them can control your blood pressure completely.
As one medicine lowers your blood pressure, your body may try to use another way to raise it. You may then need to take other medicines to control these different ways your body is trying to use to raise your blood pressure.
This means that some people with high blood pressure may need to take two or three different medications, or sometimes even more.