Types of Antihypertensives
There are four major types of drugs prescribed to lower blood pressure: diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers. Diuretics lower blood pressure by reducing the amount of fluid in the body.
The rest of the drugs listed here lower blood pressure by suppressing body signals that it’s time to raise blood pressure. This makes the numbers look good, but when you really need some blood pressure, it’s not there, and that’s the underlying cause of the deadly side effects of these drugs. For example, if you need to run or climb stairs, or you get a bad scare, your body will put out signals to raise blood pressure, but the drug will block those signals. The theory is that this will keep your blood pressure from going so high that it gives you a heart attack. But on the other side of the coin, there are good physiological reasons for your blood pressure to go up sometimes, and if your body can’t meet those demands, it could kill you.
All of these drugs are used to control and suppress a wide variety of heart disease symptoms, but none have any healing properties. Diuretics are often prescribed to treat the water retention caused by liver and kidney disease, but since they can also aggravate kidney and liver disease, they can be counterproductive.
Which Are the Safest and Most Effective Blood-Pressure-Lowering Drugs?
Of the drugs that lower blood pressure, the newer and more expensive ACE-inhibitors and calcium channel blockers have never been proven to be safer or more effective than the simpler and time-tested diuretics. A government-funded study called the ALLHAT, or Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial, proved once and for all that for the vast majority of people with high blood pressure, a diuretic will work just fine. This was a large study with more than 33,000 participants that began in 1994 and ran for eight years. When all the data had been crunched, researchers found that those participants who took the calcium channel blockers had by far the highest risk of heart failure, and those taking the ACE-inhibitors the next highest risk, compared to those taking a diuretic. The diuretic was also more effective than either of the other drugs at lowering systolic blood pressure.
Drug companies had tried to justify prescribing ACE-inhibitors and calcium channel blockers by claiming they worked better for diabetics and prediabetics, but the ALLHAT study also disproved that claim. The diuretics work as well or better on all counts.
Prescription Alternatives: Hundreds of Free, Natural, Prescription-Free Remedies to Restore & Maintain Your Health, by Earl L. Mindell, R.Ph, Ph. D, & Virginia Hopkins, M.A. Published by McGraw-Hill.