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Study examines comparative value of different blood pressure lowering medications

March 25, 2017

Diuretics, sometimes called "water pills," are the traditional medications for high blood pressure. They cause kidneys to remove sodium and water from the body, thereby relaxing blood vessel walls. ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril (brand names, Prinivil? and Zestril?) decrease chemicals that tighten blood vessels. Calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine (brand name, Norvasc?) relax blood vessels.

Diuretics cost $25 to $40 per year, while newer brand-name hypertension drugs can cost $300 to $600 per year.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends patients control their blood pressure by first controlling their weight, exercising, reducing sodium, increasing potassium and drinking alcohol in moderation. The institute says that if lifestyle changes are not sufficient, diuretics then normally should be the drug of first choice.

However, newer, higher-priced drugs are heavily marketed, and diuretics account for only about 30 percent of prescriptions written for high blood pressure medications, Whelton said.

Source : ALLHAT