What are antihypertensive medications?

Doctors may give you medicine to help lower your blood pressure. Taking medicine for high blood pressure, also called antihypertensive medications, helps lower your blood pressure. It also helps keep you healthy and prevents problems like strokes and heart attacks. Doctors may prescribe more than one kind of medicine for you or switch you to a new kind that works better. Here are some common types of blood pressure medicines and what they do:

Types of Blood Pressure Medicines

Medication Examples How they work

Calcium-channel blockers

Amlodipine, Diltiazem, Felodipine

Relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure by stopping calcium from getting into heart cells and arteries.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers

Losartan, Candesartan, Eprosartan

Blocks the effects of the chemical angiotensin in the body, lowering blood pressure. May be used to treat heart failure.


Chlorthalidone, Furosemide, Hydrochlorothiazide

Often prescribed as first-line treatment to lower blood pressure by helping the kidneys remove excess sodium and water.


Atenolol, Metoprolol, Bisoprolol

Decreases the force and rate of heart contractions, thereby decreasing blood pressure.

Angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) inhibitors

Benazepril, Lisinopril, Captopril

Prevents conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II (a blood vessel constrictor) which stops blood vessels from narrowing.


Hydralazine, Minoxidil,

Relaxes the muscles in the walls of blood vessels which allows blood to flow through them easier.

Alpha blockers

Prazosin, Doxazosin, Terazosin Hydrochloride

Blocks stress-related hormones from binding to and constricting blood vessel walls. This causes blood to flow through vessels more freely, resulting in normal heartbeats.

Alpha-beta blockers

Carvedilol, Labetalol Hydrochloride

These combined blockers are administered as IV drips for patients during a hypertensive crisis (blood pressure readings greater than 180/120 mm Hg).

What can help you take your medicine?

It’s important to take the correct dose of medicine every day at the right times. But remembering can be hard.

Here are some things that can help you remember:

  • Use a pill box with sections for morning, noon, night
  • Set reminders on your phone or tablet
  • Download medicine reminder apps
  • Refill your prescriptions at the same time each month
  • Write notes, use a checklist or a calendar
  • Ask the pharmacy to pre-pack your pills
  • Use timer caps that beep when it’s time
  • Take medicine when you do something else, like brushing your teeth

Why is it important to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider?

It is very important to talk openly with your doctor or other healthcare worker about having high blood pressure. You need to tell them if any medicines are causing problems or side effects. Be sure to share if you are having trouble taking your medicines as prescribed.

Here are some tips for talking to your doctor:

  • Write down your questions before your appointment.
  • You can bring a parent, friend, or other family member with you.
  • Take notes about what the doctor tells you.
  • Speak up and don’t keep problems to yourself. Describe your symptoms as clearly as you can. Tell when they started, how often you have them, and what makes them better or worse. Ask follow up questions like:
          • Are there other medicines I can try instead of the one I’m taking now?
          • What can I do about side effects from my medicine?
  • Call your doctor if you have health issues after your appointment.

Medication Quiz

Which of the following strategies can help individuals remember to take their high blood pressure medication? (multiple answers)
What does a diruetic do to assist in the management of high blood pressure (select 1)?
Your doctor may recommend more than one medication to manage hypertension.


Note. Adapted from Types of blood pressure medication. (2023, June 7). American Heart Association.

Adapted from Blood pressure medication. (2022, April 04). Cleveland Clinic.

Adapted from Complementary and alternative medicine: high blood pressure. (2015, March 23). St Luke’s Hospital.

National Institute of Health. Clear Communication. (2022, April 25). Talking with your doctor or healthcare provider.

Apeles, Linda. (2022). Race-based prescribing for black people with high blood pressure shows no benefit. University of California San Francisco.

Million Hearts. Medication Adherence. (2020, May 8). Improving Medication Adherence Among Patients with Hypertension.