Antihypertensive drugs
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Antihypertensive Drugs. Dr. Kaukab Azim. MBBS, PhD. Drug List *. * More drugs have been mentioned in other slides. Hypertension Epidemiology. It is estimated that, in industrialized countries, some kind of hypertension ( HTN) affects 25 % of subjects over 20 .

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Antihypertensive drugs

Antihypertensive Drugs

Dr. Kaukab Azim. MBBS, PhD

Drug list
Drug List *

* More drugs have been mentioned in other slides

Hypertension epidemiology
Hypertension Epidemiology

  • It is estimated that, in industrialized countries, some kind of hypertension (HTN) affects 25 % of subjects over 20.

  • HTN is a main risk factor for stroke, coronary and renal diseases, heart failure and sudden death.

  • In about 95% of cases, the etiology of HP is unknown (essential or primary hypertension) but is thought to be multifactorial.

  • Heredity is a predisposing factorial. Environmental factors (i.e. dietary Na+, obesity, stress) seem to act only in genetically susceptible persons.

  • In most cases the disease lacks subjective symptoms.

  • The medical treatment of HP is usually long-lasting (often for life).

  • It is estimated that today 50% of hypertensive patients lacks an effective treatment.

Other definitions
Other definitions

Isolated systolic hypertensionis defined as a systolic blood pressure of greater than 140 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure of < 90 mm Hg and staged appropriately (e.g. 170/85 mm Hg is defined as stage 2 isolated systolic pressure).

Hypertensive crisiscan be defined as a severe elevation in blood pressure (diastolic BP >120 mm Hg), and is classified further as

  • hypertensive emergency(immediately life-threatening, with end-organ damage)

  • hypertensive urgency(non immediately life-threatening, without end-organ damage)

    The terms accelerated hypertension or malignant hypertension are used to define a severe hypertension accompanied by end organ damage.

Pathophysiology of htn
Pathophysiology of HTN

1)Disorder of sodium metabolism(likely the main factor)

The extracellular fluid volume increases in hypertensive patients when exposed to high dietary sodium intake, in spite of the expected natriuretic response

2)Imbalance of the renin-angiotensin system

  • 20 % have lower than normal renin values

  • 20 % have higher than normal renin values

  • 60 % havenormalreninvalues

    3)Sympathetic overactivity(hyperdynamic state).

    Increased sympathetic activity leads to increases in cardiac output, heart rate, plasma renin concentration and peripheral vascular resistance.

    [all the above mentioned mechanisms are probably secondary to a genetic predisposition]

    4)Mosaic theory:Multiple factors sustain hypertension even though

    aberration of only one could be initially responsible.

Classification of antihypertensive drugs
Classification of Antihypertensive Drugs


  • Thiazides and congeners.

  • Loop diuretics.

  • Potassium-sparing diuretics.

    2)Sympatholytic drugs

  • Centrally acting antiadrenergic agents.

  • Alpha adrenergic blockers.

  • Beta adrenergicblockers.

  • Alpha-beta adrenergic blockers.


  • Nitric oxide releasers.

  • Potassium channel openers.

  • Calcium channel blockers

  • D1-dopamine receptor agonists.

    4)Angiotensin inhibitors and


  • AngiotensinConvertingEnzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

  • Angiotensin receptor antagonists.


  • Diuretics lower blood pressure but there is no strict correlation between diuretic efficacy and antihypertensive efficacy.

  • The fact points out that diuretics do not reduce blood pressure only by increasing diuresis.

  • The initial hypotensive effects of diuretics is associated with a reduction in plasma volume and cardiac output. Peripheral vascularresistance is usually unaffected (or sometimes increased).

  • After 4-8 weeks of continuous therapy intravascular volume and cardiac output return towards normal while peripheral vascular resistance decreases, due to arteriolar vasodilation.


Mechanisms of this vasodilation are still poorly understood, but areprobablyrelated to:

a)Depletion of body Na+ stores (likely the main mechanism) which leads to a fall in smooth muscle Na+ concentration. This in turn decreases intracellular Ca++ concentration by activating the Ca/Na exchanger.

b) Induction of renal prostaglandin biosynthesis.

c) Opening of K channels.


  • Thiazides and thiazide-like drugs are first choice antihypertensive agents. They are the most effective diuretics to reduce blood pressure in patients with normal renal function.

  • The antihypertensive doses are lower that those required for diuretic effect.

  • Loop diuretics are preferable to thiazides only in some well recognized clinical situations (malignant hypertension, concomitant chronic kidney disease etc.)

  • Potassium sparing diuretics are only used in combination with thiazides to counteract hypokalemia. Spironolactone is used in hypertension due tohyperaldosteronism.

  • Diuretics can enhance the hypotensive effects of many antihypertensiveagents.

Centrally acting sympathoplegic drugs
Centrally acting sympathoplegic Drugs


  • Alpha-2 receptor agonists: clonidine

  • Indirect acting adrenergic drugs: methyldopa

  • Imidazoline receptor agonists: clonidine,

    Mechanisms of antihypertensive action

    a) Alpha-2 receptor agonists:

  • Activation of alpha-2 receptors in Nucleus TractusSolitariusand in rostral ventrolateral medulla (the main mechanism).

  • Activation of peripheral alpha-2 receptors (after high doses).

    b) Indirect acting adrenergic drugs:

    Methyldopa acts as a false neurotransmitter. It is taken up by the adrenergic neurons where it is transformed into methylnorepinephrine, the alpha-2 receptor agonist, which acts as described above.

    c)Imidazoline receptor agonists:

    These drugs activates non-adrenergic binding sites called imidazoline receptors located in rostral ventrolateralmedulla, which is the final common pathway for sympathetic outflow.

    The final effect common to all these drugs is a decreased firing of the reticulospinaltract, that is a decrease of central adrenergic tone

Therapeutic uses in hypertension
Therapeutic uses in hypertension

  • Clonidine and methyldopa (usually given together with a diuretic) are second choice drugs for therapy of hypertension.

  • Methyldopa is often preferred for the treatment of hypertension in pregnancy (long experience has shown that it is not harmful to the fetus).

Toxicity of centrally acting sympathoplegic drugs
Toxicity of centrally acting sympathoplegic drugs

Central Nervous Ssytem

  • Sedation and drowsiness (up to 50%), mental clouding.

  • Weakness, headache, dizziness, nightmares (up to 15%)

  • Riskfor depression

    Cardiovascular system

  • Clonidine (and rarely methyldopa) can cause a hypertensive crisis, when the drug is suddenly withdrawn.

  • Bradycardia, A-V block (in riskpatients).


  • Xerostomia(clonidine up to 50%, methyldopa up to 10%) (the effect is centrally mediated).

    Other systems

  • Sexual dysfunction (up to 20%).

  • Skin eruption (up to 20% with clonidine, when given transdermally).

  • Methyldopa can cause positive Coombs’ test (up to 30%, after longtermtherapy).

Alpha blockers
Alpha Blockers


Prazosin, doxazosin, etc.

Mechanism of action

Selective blockade of alpha-1 receptors. (They reduce blood pressure by dilating both resistance and capacitance vessels)

Adverse effects

1) Cardiovascular system

  • Postural hypotension, mainly after the first dose (the so called "first-dose phenomenon"). It can lead to myocardial and cerebral ischemia (syncope). The mechanism is uncertain.

  • Tachycardia, palpitations (.5%).

  • Nasalstuffiness

  • Peripheral edema, after chronic treatment (due to sodium and water retention).


    Fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, drowsiness (up to 10%)

    3) Other systems

  • Urinary frequency, urinary incontinence.

  • Sexual dysfunction (up to 20%, it includes priapism and inhibition of ejaculation).

    Uses in hypertension

    Hypertension (second choice drugs), often associated with other antihypertensive drugs.

Beta blockers the olols
Beta-blockers (the “olols”)

Proposed mechanisms of action

(the mechanisms are listed in order of decreasing importance)

  • Decrease in cardiac output (blockade of cardiac beta-1 receptors)

  • Inhibition of renin release (blockade of beta-1 receptors of juxtaglomerular cells)

  • Inhibition of norepinephrine release from presynaptic adrenergic terminals (blockade of presynaptic beta receptors)

  • Reduction of central adrenergic tone (blockade of hypothalamic and bulbar beta receptors?)

Classes of beta blockers
Classes of Beta Blockers


Selective (at Beta 1)






  • Propranolol

  • Carteolol

  • Penbutolol

  • Pindolol

  • Timolol

Hemodynamic actions
Hemodynamic actions

Beta-blockers (Propranolol)

Alpha-beta blockers (Labetalol)

Heart rate: unchanged.

Cardiac output: unchanged or decreased.

Venous tone: decreased.

Postural hypotension: evident.

Renal blood flow: unchanged.

Efficacyof antihypertensive effect: high.

Peripheral vascular resistance: decreased.

  • Heart rate: decreased.

  • Cardiac output: decreased.

  • Venous tone: unchanged.

  • Posturalhypotension:negligible.

  • Renal blood flow: decreased (early) normal (late).

  • Efficacyof antihypertensive effect: good.

  • Peripheral vascular resistance: increased (early), decreased (late)mainly in hypertensive patients (the mechanism of this decrease is uncertain).

Guidelines for use of beta blockers
Guidelines for use of Beta-blockers

Patients most likely to benefit from a beta-blocker drug therapy are those who have:

  • youngage.

  • supraventricular arrhythmias.

  • hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy.

  • exertionalangina.

  • post myocardial infarction.

  • hypertensive emergency (labetalol).

Points to remember about bbs
Points to remember about BBs

All beta-blockers give equivalent results in the treatment of hypertension. The choice is therefore mainly dictated by the tolerability of the treatment.

In this regard it is worth remembering that:

  • Compounds which are partial agonists appear to depress heart function less than other beta-blockers.

  • Selective compounds increase airway resistance less than nonselective compounds.

  • Nonselective compounds devoid of partial agonist activity are most prone to cause peripheral vascular disturbances (because of a decreased cardiac output associated with a blockade of vasodilation in skeletal muscle).

Adverse effects
Adverse Effects

CVS:Bradycardia, hypotension, rebound hypertension when withdrawn abruptly

Respiratory: Bronchoconstriction

CNS:Insomia, depression, nightmares, constipation

Hepatic: Impaired ability of the liver for gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis causing hypoglycemia

Sexual dysfunction

Nitroprusside pharmacology
Nitroprusside Pharmacology


  • Rapidly metabolized by red blood cells with liberation of cyanide, which in turn is metabolized to thiocyanate.

  • The half life is about 2 minutes, so the drug must be given by continuous infusion to be effective.

    Adverse effects

  • Excessive vasodilation, rebound hypertension, palpitations

  • Nausea and vomiting, substernal pain

  • Accumulation of:

    a)cyanide (with too high doses)

    b)thiocyanate(over prolonged administration)

Contraindications and precautions

  • Impaired cerebral circulation

  • Compensatory hypertension (i.e., stenosis of aorta)

    Therapeutic uses

  • Hypertensive emergencies.

  • Severe heart failure (cardiac output can increase owing to afterload reduction).

  • To induce a controlled hypotension, during surgery.

Hydralazine pharmacology
Hydralazine Pharmacology

Adverse effects

a) Due to extension of pharmacological effects:

  • Asthenia, headache, nausea, dizziness.

  • Palpitations, sweating and flushing.

  • Myocardialischemia, angina (in riskpatients)

    b) Due to immunological reactions

  • Lupoidsyndrome (up to 20% incidence, with very high doses).

  • Fever, serum sickness, hemolytic anemia, vasculitis.

Contraindications and precautions

  • Coronary artery disease

  • Cerebrovascular disease

  • Collagen disease

    Therapeutic uses

  • Hypertension (second choice drug).

  • Heart failure (combined with isosorbidemononitrate)

Minodoxil pharmacology
Minodoxil Pharmacology

Pharmacokinetics and administration

  • Minoxidilis a prodrug which is transformed by the liver into the active molecule.

  • The half life is about 4 hours but the duration of action is 24-48 hours probably because of the formation of the active metabolite.

  • Administration: oral.


    (Not very commonly used because of its toxicity)

  • Severe hypertension that responds poorly to other antihypertensive medications.

  • Locally used to treat baldness.

Adverse effects

  • Salt and water retention (can be pronounced) (7%).

  • Tachycardia, palpitations, flushing, nasal stuffiness angina.

  • Cardiac failure (mainly in patients with left ventricular hypertrophy and diastolic dysfunction, who respond poorly to volume overload)

  • Hypertrichosis (Hair growth > 95% of patients, if used for more than a month).

Diazoxide pharmacology
Diazoxide Pharmacology


The drug is similar to thiazide diuretics, but it does not cause diuresis (apparently because it lacks a sulfonamide group).

Adverse effects

  • Salt and water retention, edema.

  • Hyperglycemia (50% of patients)

  • Excessive hypotension (may lead to stroke, angina and myocardial infarction)

  • Flushingandheadache (all vasodilatorscausethis)

  • Hypertrichosis (Hair growth in 20% of patients).

Contraindication and precautions

  • Compensatory hypertension (i.e., stenosis of aorta)

  • Impaired cerebral circulation

  • Coronary disease

  • Sulfa drug hypersensitivity (a sulfur atom is present in diazoxide molecule)

  • Diabetes mellitus

    Therapeutic uses

  • Hypertensive emergencies.

  • To treat hypoglycemia secondary to insulinoma

Dopamine d1 receptor agonist
Dopamine D1-Receptor Agonist

Fenoldopamis the only drug on the market.


  • Vasodilation, mainly in renal and mesenteric vascular beds.

  • Increased natriuresis(activation of D1 receptors causes an inhibition of NA+ reabsorption in the proximal tubule)


  • Half-life: about 10 minutes.

  • Administration: IV infusion

    Adverse effects

  • Reflextachycardia, flushing

  • Dose-dependent increase in intraocular pressure

  • Decrease in serum potassium levels (likely due to natriuresis-induced aldosterone release).


  • Angina (tachycardia can trigger an anginal attack)

  • Glaucoma.

  • Hypokalemic states.

    Therapeutic uses

  • Hypertensive emergencies.

  • To induce a controlled hypotension, during surgery.

Calcium channel blockers as antihypertensives
Calcium Channel Blockersas Antihypertensives


Allcalcium channel blockers (verapamil, diltiazem, dihydropyridines) are equally effective in lowering blood pressure.

Hemodynamic actions

  • Heart rate: increased (dihydropyridines); unchanged or decreased (verapamil, diltiazem)

  • Cardiac output: increased (dihydropyridines); unchanged (verapamil, diltiazem)

  • Venous tone: unchanged.

  • Peripheral vascular resistance: decreased.

  • Posturalhypotension: negligible.

  • Renal blood flow: unchanged or increased.

  • Efficacy of antihypertensive effect: moderate.

  • Duration of antihypertensive effect: variable (nifedipine . 2-6 hours; amlodipine 24-36 hours)

Calcium channel blockers
Calcium Channel blockers

Uses in hypertension

  • Hypertension (first choice drugs, more effective in African patients).

  • Hypertensiveemergencies (nicardipine).

    Long term epidemiological studies have reported an increased risk of mortality when short-acting nifedipine is used in hypertension.

    Slow release formulations apparently do not increase this risk. While there is still debate about causation, it seems that the sudden decrease in blood pressure causes a pronounced reflex tachycardia which can precipitate a myocardial infarction in patients at risk].

Renin inhibitors
Renin Inhibitors


  • Aliskirenis the only drug on the market

    Mechanism of action

  • Competitive inhibition of renin, the enzyme that converts angiotensinogen into angiotensin I (the rate limiting step in angiotensin II biosynthesis).

  • The inhibition of renin activity causes a decrease of angiotensin I, II, and aldosterone and an increase (up to 10 fold) of plasma renin.


  • Dose-dependent decrease in blood pressure.


  • Oral bioavailability: . 2.5%

  • Mainly eliminated unmetabolized by biliary excretion.

  • Half-life: 24 hours.

Renin inhibitors1
Renin Inhibitors

Adverse effects

(usually well tolerated)

  • Dizziness, fatigue

  • Diarrhea (up to 10%, dose-related )

  • Hyperkalemia (when given with ACE inhibitors or angiotensin antagonists)

  • Severehypotension (rare)

  • Angioedema(rare)


  • Pregnancy (because of the known teratogenic effects from blocking the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system)

    Therapeutic uses

  • Hypertension (second choice drugs)

Ace inhibitors
ACE inhibitors


  • Captopril, lisinopril and enalaprilat are active drugs. All other compound (enalapril, benazepril, fosinopril, etc.) are prodrugs.

    Mechanism of action

  • The converting enzyme peptidyldipeptidase hydrolyzes angiotensin one to angiotensin II and inactivates bradykinin.

  • By inhibiting this enzyme, ACE-inhibitors lead to:

    1)inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system

    2)increased plasma levels of bradykinin

    Both actions lead to a relaxation of vascular smooth muscle, but the first action is the most important.

    All drugs of this class have the same actions and similar patterns of adverse effects.

    (i.e. by inhibiting angiotensin II formation ACE inhibitors decrease the negative feed-back so causing an increase in renin release. This may attenuate the antihypertensive effect of these drugs).

Ace inhibitors1
ACE inhibitors


  • Oral bioavailability: variable (enalapril 95%, benazepril 40%)

  • Distribution in peripheral tissues (most compounds do not cross the blood-brainbarrier)

  • All compounds that are prodrugsare transformed by the liver into active metabolites.

  • Half-lives are variable (captopril . 2 hours: benazepril . 20 hours)

  • All compounds, except enalaprilat, are administered by oral route only .

Ace inhibitors a dverse effects
ACE inhibitors: Adverse effects

Cardiovascular system

  • Hypotension and postural hypotension (mainly after the initial doses, in 3-5% of patients who are salt and water depleted, or who have congestive heart failure).

    Respiratory system

  • Dry and disturbing cough (up to 20%) (it may be mediated by accumulation in the lungs of bradykinin and prostaglandins or, more likely, substance P).

Urinary system

  • Renal insufficiency (in patients with bilateral renal artery stenosis or with stenosis of the renal artery of a solitary kidney)

    Other systems

  • Hyperkalemia (mainly when given in conjunction with other drugs or diseases that alter K+ homeostasis).

  • Angioneurotic edema. It is rare (up to 0.3%), but may be fatal (inhibition of bradykinin metabolism can be involved).

    Prenatal effects

  • ACE inhibitors are pregnancy categoty D

Ace inhibitors therapeutic uses
ACE inhibitors: Therapeutic uses

Hypertension (first choice drugs) (thiazide diuretics can increase substantially the antihypertensive effect)

  • Hypertensive emergencies (enalaprilat IV)

  • Myocardial infarction (overall mortality is reduced when treatment is begun during peri-infarction period).

  • Chronic congestive heart failure (they decrease the progression of heart failure, the incidence of sudden death and myocardial infarction, and they improve the quality of life)

  • Diabetic glomerulopathy, hypertensive nephroangiosclerosis(they decrease the progression of the disease by preventing the angiotensin II induced vasoconstriction on the efferent glomerular arteriole).

  • Primary or secondary hyperaldosteronism (when resistant to conventional therapy).

Angiotensin ii receptor antagonists
Angiotensin II Receptor antagonists


  • Losartan, eprosartan, irbesartan, etc.

    Mechanism of action

  • Competitive antagonism at angiotensin II receptors (these drugs selectively block AT1 receptors)


  • They can prevent and reverse most known actions of angiotensin II, including:

  • Rapid and slow hypertensive responses

  • Stimulant effect on the peripheral sympathetic nervous system.

  • All CNS effects (thirst, vasopressin release, etc.)

  • Release of adrenal catecholamines

  • Secretion of aldosterone

  • All direct and indirect effects of angiotensin II on the kidney

  • All growth-promoting actions

Angiotensin ii receptor antagonists1
Angiotensin II Receptor antagonists compared with ACE inhibitors (enzymes other than ACE are capable of generating angiotensin II)


  • Losartan: - Oral bioavailability:. 33%. Half-life: . 2 hours.

  • All compounds are administered by oral route only.

    Adverse effects

    [all adverse effects that result from inhibiting angiotensin II related functions should be expected]

  • Hypotension (mainly in patients in whom hypertension is highly dependent on angiotensin II)

  • Hyperkalemia (in conjunction with other factors that alter K+ homeostasis)


  • Bilateral renal artery stenosis, severe stenosis of abdominal aorta.

  • Pregnancy [these drugs are classified by FDA in the pregnancy risk category D because of their substantial teratogenic risk].

    Therapeutic uses

  • Hypertension (first choice drugs)(thiazide diuretics can increase substantially the antihypertensive effect)

Algorithm compared with ACE inhibitors (enzymes other than ACE are capable of generating angiotensin II)for the treatment of hypertension.[From The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (2004).Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung &Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. Available at:]