U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. For Consumers
  3. Women's Health
  4. Women's Health Topics
  5. High Blood Pressure
  1. Women's Health Topics

High Blood Pressure

From the FDA Office of Women's Health

Woman Taking Blood Pressure

There are various FDA-approved products that are currently available to treat high blood pressure. Learn more about your options and use this information to help you talk to your healthcare provider about your blood pressure medicine. You will also find some general information to help you use your medicine wisely.

High blood pressure is a serious illness.
High blood pressure is often called a “silent killer” because you can have it and not know it. You may not feel sick at first. Over time, if you do not get treated for high blood pressure, you can get very sick or even die. 

High blood pressure can cause:

  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Blindness
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart disease

There is good news. There are life-saving medicines you can take every day to help control your high blood pressure. If you eat healthy foods, exercise, and take your medicine every day, you can help control your blood pressure.

  • Take your blood pressure medicine.
  • It is important to take your blood pressure medicine every day. Take your medicine even when your blood pressure comes down... even when you do not feel bad. Do not stop taking your medicine until your healthcare provider says that it is OK.
  • Many people who take high blood pressure medicine do not get any side effects. Like all medicines, high blood pressure medicines can sometimes cause side effects. You may have common problems like headaches, dizziness, or an upset stomach. These can be bothersome to how you feel every day but often lessen after the first few weeks of taking the medicine. If you find they continue to be bothersome to you, talk to your healthcare provider.

Understanding Your Blood Pressure: What Do the Numbers Mean? 
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when this force against your artery walls is too high. The higher your blood pressure levels, the more risk you have for other health problems such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

When you have your blood pressure taken, you are told two numbers; for example, 120/80. Both numbers are important. The first (or top) number is your pressure when your heart beats (systolic pressure). The second number is your pressure when your heart relaxes (diastolic pressure). If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, “120 over 80.” A normal blood pressure level is usually considered to be less than 120/80.

Talk with your healthcare provider about your numbers and how you can manage your blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure and Pregnancy
Some women have high blood pressure during pregnancy. This can put the mother and her baby at risk for problems during the pregnancy and after delivery. High blood pressure sometimes can be severe, which may lead to low birth weight or preterm birth. High blood pressure during pregnancy can raise your risk of high blood pressure in the future.

There are different types of high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that you develop while you are pregnant. It starts after you are 20 weeks pregnant. In many cases, gestational hypertension does not harm you or your baby, and it goes away within 12 weeks after childbirth. Some women with gestational hypertension develop preeclampsia.

Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure that started before the 20th week of pregnancy or before you became pregnant. Some women may have had high blood pressure long before becoming pregnant but were unaware until they got their blood pressure checked at their prenatal visit. Sometimes chronic hypertension can also lead to preeclampsia. 

Preeclampsia is a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy and may include protein in the urine and very high blood pressure. It usually happens in the last trimester. In rare cases, symptoms may not start until after delivery. This is called postpartum preeclampsia. Preeclampsia may cause damage to some of your organs, such as your liver or kidneys. Preeclampsia can be serious or even life-threatening for both you and your baby.

The most important thing to do is talk with your healthcare provider about any blood pressure problems so you can get the right treatment and control your blood pressure—before you get pregnant. Getting treatment for high blood pressure is important before, during, and after pregnancy to decrease risks to you and your baby.


For more information about high blood pressure and pregnancy, go to https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/pregnancy.htm.

Types of High Blood Pressure Medicines

You can use this information to help you talk to your healthcare provider about your blood pressure medicine.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of taking your medicine. This webpage only talks about some of the risks.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about any problems you are having. Your healthcare provider will help you find the medicine that is best for you.
  • Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, nursing, or planning to get pregnant. Ask your healthcare provider to tell you about the benefits and risks of taking blood pressure medicine when you are pregnant.

The different kinds of blood pressure medicines are listed below. The medicines are listed in groups. The brand names and generic names are given for the medicines in each group.


Angiotension-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

Generic Name Brand Name
benzapril Lotensin
captopril Generic Medicine Only
enalapril Epaned and Vasotec
fosinopril Generic Medicine Only
lisinopril Prinivil, Qbrelis, and Zestril
moexipril Generic Medicine Only
perindopril Generic Medicine Only
quinapril Accupril
ramipril Altace
trandolapril Generic Medicine Only

ACE Inhibitors: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you have kidney or liver problems, diabetes, heart problems, or a history of angioedema, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.
  • If you are taking aliskiren, diabetes medicines, diuretics (water pills), gold injections, lithium, neprilysin inhibitors (such as sacubitril), mTOR inhibitors, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.

Common Side Effects

  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Problems sleeping

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Jaundice
  • Problems breathing or swallowing
  • Signs of infection (e.g., sore throat, fever)
  • Swelling in the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or legs

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Beta Blockers

Generic Name Brand Name
acebutolol Generic Medicine Only
atenolol Tenormin
betaxolol Generic Medicine Only
bisoprolol Generic Medicine Only
carvedilol Coreg
carvedilol phosphate Coreg CR
labetalol Trandate
metoprolol succinate Kapspargo Sprinkle and Toprol-XL
metoprolol tartrate Lopressor
nadolol Corgard
nebivolol Bystolic
pindolol Generic Medicine Only
propranolol Inderal, Inderal LA, and InnoPran XL
timolol Generic Medicine Only

Beta-Blockers: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you have a heart condition, kidney or liver problems, asthma, diabetes, or overactive thyroid, talk to your healthcare provider about the specific risks of using this medicine.
  • If you are taking other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using beta-blockers.
  • If you are planning to have cataract surgery, notify your eye doctor that you are using this medicine.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking this medicine without the advice of your healthcare provider.

Common Side Effects

  • Feeling tired
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Feeling lightheaded

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Problems breathing
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, or legs

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Calcium Channel Blockers

Generic Name Brand Name
amlodipine benzoate Katerzia
amlodipine besylate  Norvasc
diltiazem Cardizem CD, Cardizem LA, Cartia XT, Diltzac, Tiazac, and Taztia XT
felodipine Generic Medicine Only
isradipine Generic Medicine Only
levamlodipine Conjupri
nifedipine Adalat CC and Procardia X
nisoldipine Sular
verapamil Calan SR, Verelan, and Verelan PM

Calcium Channel Blockers: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you have a heart condition, liver problems, or kidney problems, talk to your healthcare provider about the specific risks of using calcium channel blockers.
  • If you are taking cimetidine, cyclosporine, fentanyl, sildenafil, simvastatin, tacrolimus, or other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.

Common Side Effects

  • Feeling drowsy
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Ankle swelling
  • Feeling flushed (warm)

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Serious rashes
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, arms, or legs
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat 

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Peripherally Acting Alpha-Adrenergic Blockers

Generic Name Brand Name
doxazosin Cardura and Cardura XL
phenoxybenzamine Generic Medicine Only
prazosin Minipress
terazosin Generic Medicine Only

Peripherally Acting Alpha-Adrenergic Blockers: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you have liver problems, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.
  • If you are taking other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.
  • If you are planning to have cataract surgery, notify your eye doctor that you are using this medicine.

Common Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Vision problems
  • Decreased sexual ability

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or legs
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Prolonged or painful erection in men

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Vasodilators

Generic Name Brand Name
hydralazine Generic Medicine Only
minoxidil Generic Medicine Only

Vasodilators: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you have heart disease or kidney problems, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.
  • If you are taking diuretics (water pills) or other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.

Common Side Effects

  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Growth in body hair

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Problems breathing
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or legs
  • Skin tingling or numbness, skin crawling, or itching 

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Angiotension II Antagonists

Generic Name Brand Name
azilsartan Edarbi
candesartan Atacand 
irbesartan Avapro
losartan Cozaar
olmesartan Benicar 
telmisartan Micardis 
valsartan Diovan

Angiotension II Antagonists: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before you start using this medicine.
  • If you have kidney problems, liver problems, diabetes, low blood volume, or low salt in your blood, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of taking this medicine.
  • If you are taking diuretics (water pills), aliskiren, antibiotics, cyclosporine, lithium, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, potassium supplements, ritonavir, or other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of taking this medicine.

Common Side Effects

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Sinus problems
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Problems breathing
  • Fainting
  • Severe, chronic diarrhea with significant weight loss
  • Swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or legsr legs

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Centrally-Acting Alpha Adrenergics

Generic Name Brand Name
clonidine Catapres
clonidine Catapres–TTS-1, TTS-2, TTS-3 
(Skin Patches)
guanfacine  Generic Medicine Only

Centrally-Acting Alpha Adrenergics: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before you start using this medicine.
  • If you have heart disease, kidney problems, or liver problems, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you are taking antidepressants, antipsychotics, or other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.
  • Drinking alcohol may make side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, or vision problems worse.
  • Be careful when driving or operating machinery.
  • Keep both used and unused skin patches out of the reach of children. Used patches still contain enough medicine to be harmful to a child. 
  • Tell your healthcare provider before you have an MRI scan if you are using the skin patch.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking this medicine without the advice of your healthcare provider.

Common Side Effects

  • Changes in vision
  • Dizziness
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Mild skin rash, itching, or redness (close to the patch)
  • Decreased sexual ability
  • Feeling drowsy or tired

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Allergic reaction (including hives, rash, or swelling in other parts of your body)
  • Fainting
  • Moderate-to-severe skin rash, itching, or redness
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Swollen ankles or feet

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Renin Inhibitors

Generic Name Brand Name
Aliskiren  Tekturna

Renin Inhibitors: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, or kidney problems, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you are taking water pills (diuretics), cyclosporine, high blood pressure medicines, heart medicines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, potassium supplements, medicines to treat a fungus, or other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.

Common Side Effects

  • Cough 
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Acid reflux
  • Rash
  • Upset stomach
  • Abdominal pain

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, hives, rash, or swelling in your whole body)
  • Fainting
  • Decreased urination
  • Gout
  • Kidney stones
  • Seizures
  • Swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyes, or tongue

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Combination Medicines

Generic Name Brand Name
aliskiren and hydrochlorothiazide Tekturna HCT
amlodipine besylate and valsartan Exforge
amlodipine besylate and benazepril Lotrel
amlodipine besylate and olmesartan Azor
amlodipine besylate and perindopril  Prestalia
amlodipine besylate and telmisartan Twynsta
amlodipine besylate, hydrochlorothiazide, and valsartan Exforge HCT
atenolol and chlorthalidone Tenoretic 50, Tenoretic 100
benazepril and hydrochlorothiazide Lotensin HCT
candesartan and hydrochlorothiazide Atacand HCT
captopril and hydrochlorothiazide Generic Medicine Only
enalapril and hydrochlorothiazide Vaseretic
fosinopril and hydrochlorothiazide Generic Medicine Only
hydrochlorothiazide and irbesartan Avalide
hydrochlorothiazide and lisinopril Zestoretic
hydrochlorothiazide and metoprolol succinate Dutoprol
hydrochlorothiazide and metoprolol tartrate Lopressor HCT
hydrochlorothiazide and olmesartan Benicar HCT
hydrochlorothiazide and quinapril Accuretic and Quinaretic
hydrochlorothiazide and telmisartan Micardis HCT
bisoprolol and hydrochlorothiazide  Ziac
hydrochlorothiazide and losartan Hyzaar
hydrochlorothiazide and metoprolol tartrate Generic Medicine Only
hydrochlorothiazide and moexipril Generic Medicine Only
amlodipine besylate, hydrochlorothiazide, and olmesartan Tribenzor
trandolapril and verapamil Tarka
hydrochlorothiazide and valsartan Diovan HCT
chlorthalidone and zilsartan  Edarbyclor

Combination Drugs: What You Should Know

These medicines are made up of two or more different kinds of blood pressure medicines. Look for the generic or brand names of these medicines on one of the other lists in this guide.

Warnings and Side Effects

The warnings and side effects for these medicines will be the same as those listed for each of the generic medicines.

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Other Combination Medicines

Generic Name Brand Name
amlodipine besylate and atorvastatin Caduet
amlodipine besylate and celecoxib  Consensi

Other Combination Medicines: What You Should Know

  • Caduet is made up of two different kinds of medicines. Amlodipine is a blood pressure medicine. Atorvastatin is a cholesterol-lowering medicine. 
  • Consensi is made up of two different kinds of medicines. Amlodipine is a blood pressure medicine. Celecoxib is a medicine used to treat osteoarthritis.
  • Look for the generic or brand names of amlodipine on the list of calcium channel blockers in this guide. The warnings and side effects for amlodipine will be the same as those listed earlier for calcium channel blockers.
  • For the most complete and up-to-date information about the warnings and side effects for each  medicine of atorvastatin and celecoxib, check http:/www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsatfda/.

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you have asthma, diabetes, stomach ulcers, heart disease, kidney problems, liver problems, or thyroid problems, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you are taking aspirin, blood thinners, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, antiviral medicines, antibiotics, antifungal medicines, cimetidine, sildenafil, oral contraceptives, or other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.

Common Side Effects

  • Swelling of the legs or ankles
  • Muscle or joint pain (mild)
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling tired or sleepy
  • Gas
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Face feels hot or warm

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, hives, rash, or swelling in your whole body)
  • Weakness in part of your body
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle problems such as weakness, tenderness, or pain that happens without a good reason (e.g., exercise or injury)
  • Bloody vomit or bowel movement
  • Brown or dark-colored urine
  • Skin or eyes look yellow
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Feel more tired than usual
  • Serious skin rash, itching, or redness
  • Stomach or intestinal pain

Diuretics (sometimes called "water pills")

Generic Name Brand Name
amiloride and hydrochlorothiazide Midamor
chlorothiazide Diuril
chlorthalidone Generic Medicine Only
eplerenone Inspra
furosemide Lasix
hydrochlorothiazide Microzide
hydrochlorothiazide and spironolactone Aldactazide
hydrochlorothiazide and triamterene Dyazide, Maxzide, and Maxzide-25
indapamide Generic Medicine Only
spironolactone  Aldactone and CaroSpir
torsemide  Demadex
metolazone Zaroxolyn

Diuretics: What You Should Know

Warnings

  • If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.
  • If you have kidney or liver problems, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.
  • If you are taking potassium supplements, lithium, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antifungal drugs, antiviral drugs, or other medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of using this medicine.

Common Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting 
  • Frequent urination
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach

Warning Signs

Seek medical attention if you have any of these signs:

  • Sudden vision changes or eye pain
  • Severe rash
  • Problems breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Tingling or numbness in hands, arms, legs, or feet
  • Gout

For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.


Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • What is the name of the medicine I am taking? 
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • What other prescription medicines should I avoid while taking my high blood pressure medicine?
  • What foods (such as grapefruit juice), herbs (like St. John’s wort), or over-the-counter medicine should I avoid?
  • When should I take each medicine? How many times per day do I take each medicine?
  • Can I take my medicines if I am pregnant or nursing?

Learn More About Pregnancy Registries

Pregnancy Registries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Resources For You

 



This guide should not be used in place of talking to your healthcare provider or reading the label on your medicine bottle. The medicine and risk information in this guide may change and is not all-inclusive. High blood pressure medicines and information in this guide are current as of February 2021. 
For the most complete and up-to-date information about the risks and side effects of each medicine, check Drugs@FDA.

 

 
Back to Top