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Blood Pressure Drugs - Page 5

Alpha Blockers

Alpha Blockers, Peripheral & Combinations

(check with manufacturer for specific information)

Commonly prescribed brands:

Doxazosin

Terazosin

Prazosin

Cardura

Hytrin

Minipress

How they are given:

  • Oral

What they are used for:

You should not be treated with them if:

N/A

Possible side effects:

  • Dizziness, drowsiness, fluid retention

Pregnancy/nursing:

  • The safety of these medications during pregnancy is unknown
  • Thiazides (a type of diuretic found in some combination pills, including Minizide) pass across the placenta and can enter a woman's breast milk
  • Prazosin can enter a woman's breast milk

How do alpha blockers work?
Alpha blockers lower blood pressure by blocking the effects of stress hormones such as adrenaline that can narrow blood vessels. Alpha blockers also slow the heart rate and reduce the force of the heartbeat.

Who should take alpha blockers?
Alpha blockers are not often used in the treatment of high blood pressure because recent evidence shows that using them alone may increase the risk of heart failure. In addition, these drugs are not as effective as other blood pressure medications at reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.7 Alpha blockers alone have a small blood pressure lowering effect, so when they are prescribed it is usually in combination with a drug from another class, such as beta blockers (often in a single pill). In men, alpha blockers are mainly useful in patients with an enlarged prostate gland (not cancerous) who also have hypertension, since they can treat both conditions at the same time.

What side effects do alpha blockers have?
Alpha blockers may cause dizziness and fainting, usually after the first dose and in the following days. This side effect is reduced with continued use of the drug.

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