February 8, 2016
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Medications (cont.)

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Is it safe to take high blood pressure medication during pregnancy?

Some high blood pressure medications should absolutely NOT be used during pregnancy as they may harm the mother and developing fetus. These medications include the ACE inhibitors and the angiotensin II receptor blockers. Reserpine may also be harmful during pregnancy and should only be used when no other alternatives exist.

Safe medications to use include methyldopa and potentially some diuretics and beta blockers, including labetalol.

Is it safe to drink alcohol while taking high blood pressure medications?

Some high blood pressure medications initially cause drowsiness, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Some even cause fainting on the first dose. The body usually adjusts to the effects of these medications and the side effects disappear. Consuming alcohol during the early phase of antihypertensive treatment could be risky because alcohol can also cause dizziness, drowsiness, and lightheadedness.

Also, alcohol consumption causes a transient rise in blood pressure that could persist if the drinking is beyond the level of "moderation."

Does high blood pressure lead to weight gain?

Some high blood pressure medications can, in fact, lead to weight gain. Common offenders include older beta blockers such as propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin). There could be several reasons for this -- including the fact that the medications can make patients feel tired and thus less likely to exercise. Minoxidil tablets (Loniten) -- used only when other antihypertensive medications have failed -- can also cause weight gain. Weight gain is also listed as a common side effect of doxazosin (Cardura). Diuretics are more likely to cause weight loss.


"High Blood Pressure Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 17 Mar 2014.

"Hypertension Among Adults in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 31 Oct 2013.

"Cardiovascular Drugs." Medscape. 2014.

"Loniten." Pfizer. 14 Nov. 2013.

Brewster, L. M. and Y. K. Seedar. "Why do hypertensive patients of African ancestry respond better to calcium blockers and diuretics than to ACE inhibitors and β-adrenergic blockers? A systematic review." BMC Medicine 11 (2013): 141.

Davis, B. R., et al. "Effect of antihypertensive therapy on weight loss. The Trial of Antihypertensive Interventions and Management Research Group." Hypertension 19 (1992): 393-399.

Decalmer, P. B., et al. "Beta-blockers and asthma." British Heart Journal 40.2 (1978): 184-189.

Kattah, A. G. and V. D. Garovic. "The management of hypertension in pregnancy." Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease 20.3 (2013): 229-239.

Kaiser, E. A., et al. "Increasing complexity: which drug class to choose for treatment of hypertension in the elderly?" Clinical Interventions in Aging 9 (2014): 459-475.

Stewart, S. H., et al. "Blood pressure reduction during treatment for alcohol dependence: results from the COMBINE study." Addiction 103.10 (2008): 1622-1628.

Stokes, G. S. "Management of hypertension in the elderly patient." Clinical Interventions in Aging 4 (2009): 379-389.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/30/2014


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