Alternative medicine (1)
- Herbal supplements may not mix with heart medicines
Lifestyle and home remedies (10)
- Sample menus for the DASH eating plan
- DASH diet: Tips for shopping and cooking
- DASH diet: Tips for dining out
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- Symptom Checker
Tests and diagnosis (3)
- Blood pressure chart: What your reading means
- Microalbumin test
- Blood pressure test
Treatments and drugs (9)
- Beta blockers
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
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Uses for alpha blockers
Doctors prescribe alpha blockers to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
- Some circulatory conditions, such as Raynaud's disease
- Hardening and thickening of the skin (scleroderma)
- Adrenal gland tumors (pheochromocytoma)
Though alpha blockers are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, they're typically not preferred as the first treatment option. Instead, they're used in combination with other drugs, such as diuretics, when your high blood pressure is difficult to control.
Side effects and cautions
Alpha blockers may have what's called a "first-dose effect." When you start taking an alpha blocker, you may develop pronounced low blood pressure and dizziness, which can make you suddenly faint when you rise from a sitting or lying position.
Other side effects include headache, pounding heartbeat, nausea, weakness, weight gain and small decreases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol).
Alpha blockers can increase or decrease the effects of other medications you take. Tell your doctor if you take any other medications, such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers or medications used for erectile dysfunction, if you're prescribed an alpha blocker.
Some research has found that some alpha blockers can increase the risk of heart failure with long-term use. While more research is needed to confirm this finding, talk to your doctor if you're concerned.Previous page
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- Flynn JT. Treatment of high blood pressure: Drug therapy. In: Kaplan NM, et al. Kaplan's Clinical Hypertension. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010:192.
- Types of blood pressure medications. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Types-of-Blood-Pressure-Medications_UCM_303247_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 30, 2010.
- High blood pressure: Medicines to help you. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/byaudience/forwomen/ucm118594.htm. Accessed Sept. 30, 2010.
- Kaplan NM, et al. Indications and contraindications to the use of specific antihypertensive drugs. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 30, 2010.
- Chobanian AV, et al. The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. New England Journal of Medicine. 2003;289:2560.