Nursing - Calcium Channel Drugs

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July 16, 2016 – 04:37 am
Are Beta Blockers or Calcium Channel Blockers Better to Manage High Blood Pressure?Knowing which blood pressure medication is best for you will depend on existing medical problems and other factors. Photo Credit

Calcium channel blockers and beta blockers are both used to help reduce blood pressure. Determining which medication is the preferred choice will depend on the individual and the underlying cause of the high blood pressure. Although both medications are used for blood pressure control, the mechanism of how they act is different.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a sustained elevation of systemic arterial pressure. The diagnosis of hypertension is usually based on having three separate blood pressure readings with the top number, or systolic pressure, being greater than 120 mm Hg, and/or a bottom number, or the diastolic, being greater than 80 mm Hg. You can classify high blood pressure as being either primary hypertension, meaning there is no single factor identified as the primary cause, or secondary hypertension in which there is an identifiable cause such as kidney disease or other medications.

Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering cells of the heart and blood vessel walls, resulting in lower blood pressure. In addition to preventing calcium from entering the cells, calcium channel blockers also cause dilation of the arteries, which reduces peripheral resistance thereby reducing blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers are used to help treat a variety of conditions including high blood pressure, angina, irregular heartbeats and migraine headaches. MayoClinic.com indicates that calcium channel blockers may not be as effective as diuretics, beta blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors at lowering blood pressure. Because of this, calcium channel blockers are not usually the first medication you'd be prescribed to lower your blood pressure.

Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. When you take beta blockers, the heart beats slower and with less force, thereby reducing blood pressure. Beta blockers also help blood vessels open up to improve blood flow. Beta blockers are not usually prescribed until other blood pressure medications, such as diuretics, haven't worked effectively. Beta-blockers are used in some of the same instances as calcium channel blockers and in addition, they are used in heart failure and heart attacks.

Both calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers may be prescribed along with other high blood pressure medications to get the desired effect. There are instances where one medication is recommended over the other. Beta-blockers can trigger an asthma attack in a person with known asthma and block the signs of low blood sugar in diabetics; therefore, it is not the primary drug of choice in these instances. Calcium channel blockers have proven to be more effective and are recommended as the first line therapy in older patients, according to "Nurse Prescribing."

Source: www.livestrong.com
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