Alpha blockers lower our blood pressure by preventing our body nervous system from stimulating the muscles in the walls of our smaller arteries. As a result the muscles do not narrow as much. Alpha blockers also reduce the effects of the hormones nor adrenaline and adrenaline which produce vasoconstriction.
These drugs also decrease total blood cholesterol and TGL levels. If we are at a risk of heart attack because of both high blood pressure and high cholesterol, alpha blockers offer a double benefit. In the elderly with prostate hypertrophy, alpha blockers improve urine flow and decrease the awakenings at night to go to the toilet. Alpha blockers are also a good choice in young productive persons who cannot take beta blocker (as it restricts their ability to be physically active).
Alpha blockers are available in both short and long acting forms. They include:
Side effects and cautions
These drugs are generally well tolerated but when taken for the first time the older patients complain of dizziness. Some patients even faint when they stand up after taking the medication. This is because the alpha blockers slow the time taken by the body to respond to the natural changes in blood pressure when you move from a sitting or lying position to a standing position. To reduce this problem the doctor prescribes only a small initial dose of drug and that too to be taken before going to the bed.
After the patient has adapted to the drug, the doctor slowly increases the dosage. Therefore, it is better to take alpha blockers at bedtime until and unless the doctor prescribes otherwise. Other Possible side effects of alpha blockers are:
- A pounding heart beat
Over time the medications also can lose their effectiveness. However, when a diuretic is added along with the alpha blocker, the effectiveness persists and this combination gives a sustained controlled value of BP.