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High blood pressure can increase a man’s risk of erectile dysfunction, yet some BP medications can also contribute to this problem.

What Are Some High Blood Pressure Medications

One reason why erectile dysfunction (ED) becomes more common with age is that older men are more likely to take medications, and ED is often a side effect of many common medications. In fact, it is estimated that 25% of all ED is caused by medication.

Common Blood Pressure Medications

Many medications can cause erection difficulties, but blood pressure medications are at the top. ED is an occasional side effect of BP medications such as thiazide diuretics, loop diuretics, and beta-blockers, all of which can reduce blood flow to the penis and make it difficult to achieve an erection. However, other BP medications, such as alpha-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and angiotensin-syn-receptor blockers, rarely cause ED.

Some research even suggests that the effects of blood pressure medications may be more psychological than physical. When ED occurs after a man starts taking a new medication, it’s possible that anxiety about it, rather than the medication, may trigger the problem. And being aware of potential side effects may make a man more likely to recognize them as abnormal.

Looked at men who had been diagnosed with heart disease, but without ED, who began treatment with the beta-blocker atenolol (Tenormin). Few study participants reported sexual side effects of blood pressure medication, and about one-third of participants reported ED. In contrast, among those who were not told the name of the drug or its side effects, only 3% said they experienced ED.

If you get ED soon after starting treatment with a BP medication, talk to your doctor. He may be able to substitute someone else. Keep in mind that it may take several days to several weeks for an erection to return after you stop high blood pressure medication.

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Even if you don’t take blood pressure medications, you should still get your blood pressure checked because high BP can also be a sign of ED. In fact, according to a study that examined the medical records of more than 1.9 million men, men with ED are about 38% more likely to have high blood pressure than men without ED. This isn’t too surprising, since ED often occurs in men who smoke or are overweight – both of which are common risk factors for high blood pressure.

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Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diet for weight loss… from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on cataract treatment. Plus, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from experts at Harvard Medical School. Antihypertensive medications made easy! The chart includes the classes of antihypertensive drugs along with their drug names, list of drug examples, mechanism of action and how they lower high blood pressure to treat hypertension!

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There are several different classes or categories of antihypertensive drugs based on their mechanism of action to lower blood pressure.

The more common drug classifications include ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers or ARBs, alpha blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics.

We’ll use the antihypertensive chart below to learn about the main classes as well as their drug names, list of example drugs, mechanisms of action, and primary effects on blood pressure.

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You will also learn memory tricks to remember the main antihypertensive classes along with the names of the drugs in each class.

The “A” will stand for several different antihypertensive medications, the first of which is angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, also known as ACE inhibitors.

Although there are other antihypertensives, these are the main ones and are generally more common.

You can use “C” to remember central agonists, and you can use “D” to remember dilators for vasodilators.

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Now that we know the main antihypertensive classes, let’s learn an easy way to remember the names of the drugs in each class.

A simple trick to remember the drugs in each antihypertensive drug class is to use the suffixes of their names.

Alpha blockers end in “Zocin”, and many alpha blockers specific for treating high blood pressure end in “Zocin”.

Non-selective alpha blockers include phentolamine and phenoxybenzamine, which are considered in the treatment of pheochromocytoma and cocaine-induced hypertension.

High Blood Pressure (hypertension)

Since non-selective alpha blockers are more commonly used for catecholamine-induced hypertension, we will focus on selective alpha-1 antagonists for the purposes of this post.

The EZmed Alpha Antagonists post will discuss both selective and non-selective alpha blockers in more detail.

Dihydropyridines are used more for hypertension because they primarily target the blood vessels, while nonhydropyridines (verapamil and diltiazem) are used more for tachyarrhythmias because they primarily target the heart.

**Although using these suffixes is a great way to remember the names of most drugs in each antihypertensive class, there are some exceptions and it is not a strict rule.

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Now that we know the name suffixes of each class of drug, let’s take a look at some example drugs.

Let’s take a look at the mechanism of action of each antihypertensive drug class as we move through the chart.

Specifically, ACE is involved in converting angiotensin I to angiotensin II, which is the active hormone used to increase blood pressure through several mechanisms.

First, angiotensin II binds to angiotensin II receptors located on blood vessels. This causes vasoconstriction and increases blood pressure.

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Angiotensin II also increases reabsorption of sodium and water in the kidney, and increases the release of aldosterone from the adrenal cortex and antidiuretic hormone from the posterior pituitary gland.

Renin angiotensin aldosterone system: Increases blood pressure via vasoconstriction, sodium/water reabsorption, aldosterone release, and antidiuretic hormone (ADH) release.

If we block the angiotensin-converting enzyme with an ACE inhibitor, we will reduce the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II.

For more information on the mechanism of action, indications, side effects and contraindications of ACE inhibitors, see ACE Inhibitor Lectures.

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Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) have similar effects to ACE inhibitors because they also block the downstream feedback of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.

However, we are not inhibiting the angiotensin-converting enzyme as we saw with ACE inhibitors. Instead we are blocking angiotensin II receptors.

If angiotensin II is unable to bind to its receptors, the downstream effects that would normally increase blood pressure will not occur.

For more information on the mechanism of action, indications, side effects and contraindications of ARBs, see the Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers lecture.

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You may recall that alpha receptors are a type of adrenergic receptor that play a role in our sympathetic nervous system, which is our flight or fight response to stressful or dangerous situations.

One of those responses is to increase blood pressure to supply blood to our vital tissues and organs.

Sympathetic catecholamines such as norepinephrine and epinephrine increase during the sympathetic response, and they can bind to alpha-1 receptors on blood vessels.

Norepinephrine has greater affinity than epinephrine, although they can both bind to alpha-1 receptors and activate them.

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Activation of alpha-1 receptors on blood vessels causes vascular smooth muscle contraction and vasoconstriction, leading to an increase in blood pressure.

Vascular alpha-1 receptors: Sympathomimetic catecholamines such as norepinephrine and epinephrine can bind to alpha-1 receptors on blood vessels causing vasoconstriction and increased blood pressure.

If we block alpha-1 receptors on blood vessels using an alpha blocker, norepinephrine and epinephrine have difficulty binding to the receptor.

There are different types of alpha blockers, including selective and non-selective, depending on whether they bind to alpha-1 receptors, alpha-2 receptors, or both. This will be discussed more in the Alpha Antagonist post.

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Alpha blocker Mechanism of action: Blocks alpha-1 receptors on blood vessels, thereby preventing sympathetic catecholamines such as norepinephrine and epinephrine from binding. This reduces vasoconstriction and blood pressure.

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