What are drawbacks of drug therapy for hypertension?


Drug therapy cannot lead to a cure for hypertension


Hypertension has complex causes. It has been identified that atherosclerosis, kidney disease, increase of blood viscosity and endocrinal disorders all can cause hypertension. None of the drugs can treat the causes but just manipulate tone of blood vessels, blood volume and heartbeat to control blood pressure. Patients have to take antihypertensive drugs daily over years, even rest of life. In most cases, drugs ‘escort’ patients from Stage 2 hypertension to Stage 3. Actually the increase of blood viscosity with age is a major cause of primary hypertension, but no available drugs can do anything on it.


Drugs disrupting natural regulation reactions of blood pressures


     Mechanisms of the drugs to lower blood pressure are achieved by intervening self-regulation of blood pressures. That often causes physiological disorders and worsens hypertension conditions. Low level oxygen or blood perfusion in tissues especially in brain, heart and kidney, will stimulate artery-contracting hormones to release to raise blood pressure in order to increase tissue blood supply. When alfa- or beta-blockers and anti-angiotensin drugs are used, they block hormone actions and in turn, more hormones or factors are released. That can result in high blood levels of adrenalin (or non-adrenalin or other hormones) and angiotensin in the blood. As a general biological rule, effects of long-term high levels of hormones could change gene expression patterns of relevant cells and reduce number of relevant receptors, which can reduce heart output of blood and worsen tissue blood supply. That maybe also one of the causes of beta-blockers and diuretics induced type 2 diabetes and kidney dysfunction due to the number reduction of relevant receptors caused by long-term excessive release of relevant hormones. Once this type of drugs is stopped, higher blood pressures will bounce back. That is why, once drug treatment is started, it should be carrying on and should not be stopped abruptly.


Adverse effects of anti-hypertensive drugs


     All antihypertensive drugs can cause side effects or toxicity. Drug-induced adverse reactions are one of major threats to patients’ health. Antihypertensive drugs are among the most concerned list of drugs that can cause side effects or toxicity. According to a report by the British Medical Association in June 2003, 97% of hypertensive patient who took drugs for high blood pressures had suf­fered significant side effects or toxicity at some point during treatment. Major side effects of different drugs are introduced bellow:



     This type of drugs can cause hyponatremia, hypokalemia or hyperkalemia depending on drug types and increase of the level of blood sugar (diabetic condition). Patient often feel headache, dizziness, thirsty and muscle pain.


Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

    ACE inhibitors can cause kidney failure, hyperkalemia, dizziness, faint, abnormal taste, skin rash and itching, swelling of the neck, face, tongue, feet and lower legs, vomiting and diarrhoea.



    Beta-receptor blockers can cause slow heartrate and low level energy metabolism and patients may fell cold hands and feet. This often makes older people feel uncomfortable and fatigue. Beta-blockers can also cause type 2 diabetes. When beta-blocker treatment is stopped suddenly, it can result in hypertension, partly due to excessive hormones in the blood are available.


Calcium channel blockers

    Calcium channel blockers can cause constipation, arrhythmia, headache and ankle and gum swelling.



     Anticoagulants (e.g aspirin) may cause bleeding and peptic ulcer.


     In general, drug-based antihypertensive therapy is not cost effective, can cause other health problems and does not treat the cause of hypertension and therefore, can only suppress blood pressure but cannot cure hypertension. 

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