What Are Vasodilators and How Can They Help Patients With Hypertension?


Vasodilators are medications used in treating a number of cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension or high blood pressure. These medicines open or dilate blood vessels to make blood circulation easier.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a dangerous health condition that can lead to complications if it is not treated. It can damage the heart and blood vessels. A person with hypertension or high blood pressure can suffer a stroke or heart attack if the condition is not treated. It can also lead to kidney failure.

How Do Vasodilators Work

They prevent the muscles in the walls of the veins and arteries from tightening. When these muscles tighten, the walls become narrow and make it harder for blood to flow. This will cause the heart to exert effort in pumping blood into the blood vessels, which leads to high blood pressure. What vasodilators do is they prevent this from happening.

Uses of Vasodilators

Doctors prescribe vasodilators to deal with a number of health conditions

  1. Hypertension or high blood pressure
  2. Eclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy
  3. Preeclampsia or high blood pressure during childbirth
  4. Pulmonary hypertension or high blood pressure affecting the arteries in the lungs
  5. Heart failure
  6. Angina or chest pains due to low blood circulation to the heart

Kinds of Vasodilators

There are different kinds of vasodilators depending on their use.

  1. Arterial dilators affect mainly the arteries. Doctors prescribed arterial dilators to deal with heart failures and high blood pressure.
  2. Venous dilators affect mainly for the veins. Doctors prescribed venous dilators for angina and heart failures.
  3. Mixed dilators affect both the veins and arteries. Mixed dilators make up most of vasodilator medications.

Side Effects of Vasodilators

Vasodilators are strong medications that have some side effects on the patient. Doctors prescribe them when the blood pressure of patients cannot be controlled using other types of medicines.  The side effects of vasodilators include the following:

  1. Tachycardia or rapid heartbeats
  2. Chest pain
  3. Edema or fluid retention
  4. Heart palpitations
  5. Vomiting
  6. Nausea
  7. Excessive hair growth
  8. Joint pains
  9. Flushing
  10. Dizziness
  11. Headaches
  12. Nasal congestion

These side effects typically affect older people who may easily get dizzy or experience some lightheadedness.

Precautions before Using Vasodilators

It is important for patients to observe some precautions before they take vasodilators

  1. Patients should inform their doctor of existing health conditions before they start using vasodilators.
  2. Patients should inform the doctor of other prescription and non-prescription medications or herbal drugs they are taking before they start using vasodilators.
  3. It is important to go through all the tests the doctor prescribes to check the response of the body to the medication.
  4. Patients should strictly follow the special diet their doctors have suggested.

Doctors normally prescribe vasodilators together with other medications to treat high blood pressure. Vasodilators are lifetime medications that patients should take. These medicines prevent serious health issues from developing. Aside from taking vasodilators and other medications, it is important for patients to change their lifestyle. These lifestyle changes include regular exercise and having a healthy diet.


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