Diuretics as Medications for High Blood Pressure

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Filed Under: Blood Pressure Webinar, Heart Health
Last Reviewed 03/06/2014

Diuretics as Medications for High Blood Pressure

Diuretics have an excellent track record as medications for high blood pressure, as well as congestive heart failure. These agents lower blood pressure indirectly by increasing urine output, which clears excess fluid from the body and lungs. Diuretics also help relax artery walls, thereby contributing to lower blood pressure.

There are a few different types of diuretics, including: 

  • Loop diuretics, such as furosemide (Lasix) and torsemide (Demadex); 
  • Thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and indapamide (Lozol);
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics, such as HCTZ plus spironolactone (Aldactazide).
  • Possible Side Effects of Loop and Thiazide Diuretics
  • Low blood potassium
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Possible Side Effects of Potassium-Sparing Diuretics

  • Loss of appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Mental confusion
  • Fever
  • Impotence
  • Burning sensation in the tongue
  • Anemia
  • Cramping

Potential Nutrient Depletion from Medications for High Blood Pressure

Some 25 percent to 40 percent of adults age 65 and older use diuretics. And while these drugs do a good job of lowering blood pressure by increasing urine production, this action also promotes excretion of more than the normal amount of sodium, potassium and magnesium, which is not good for optimal body chemistry. All of the enzymatic processes that require sodium, potassium and magnesium have less of those minerals available to them. Another frequent complication associated with all diuretics, particularly thiazide diuretics, is an increase is blood sugar and blood uric acid. Unfortunately, some patients even develop full-blown gout when they take thiazide diuretics.

Although doctors usually can’t determine which patients will develop sugar elevations or gout, it’s a good idea to inform your physician if you have a history of diabetes or gout before taking these medications for high blood pressure.

Along with sodium, potassium and magnesium, other nutrients that may be depleted in the body as the result of taking diuretics include vitamin B1 (Thiamin), vitamin B6, calcium, zinc, folic acid and CoQ10. Consequently, you need to make sure that your supplementation program includes these nutrients, or modify your diet to feature foods that are high in these nutrients.

Diet Modifications While on Medications for High Blood Pressure

Good food sources of vitamin B1 (Thiamin) include: sunflower seeds, fresh squeezed orange juice, bulgur, spinach noodles, pine nuts, hickory nuts, yellow corn and potatoes

Good food sources of vitamin B6 include: potatoes, bananas, garbanzo beans, chicken breast, oatmeal, pork loin, mackerel, snapper, wheat germ and walnuts

Good food sources of calcium include: nonfat milk, lowfat yogurt, figs, Swiss cheese, salmon, spinach, tofu, broccoli, almonds and papaya

Good food sources of magnesium include: avocado, wheat germ, almonds, shredded wheat cereal, pumpkin seeds, cashews, spinach, potatoes, soybeans and peanuts

Good food sources of potassium include: figs, avocado, papaya, bananas, dates, bulgur, skim milk, guava, cantaloupe and fresh squeezed orange juice. Baked potato is the best source.

Good food sources of zinc include: oysters, beef shank, chicken legs, pork tenderloin, yogurt, baked beans, cashews, pecans, Swiss cheese and milk

Good food sources of folic acid include: beef liver, fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, great northern beans, asparagus, wheat germ, fresh squeezed orange juice, turnip greens, vegetarian baked beans and broccoli

Good food sources of CoQ10 include: beef, chicken, trout, wild salmon and broccoli

More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Keeping Blood Pressure Low

Want the scoop on other common prescription medications for high blood pressure? Learn more about:

What’s the best diet for high blood pressure? Learn how the Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet can help lower your blood pressure.

How does exercise help lower your blood pressure? Find out the many ways that exercise promotes healthy blood pressure and get tips on the most heart-healthy types of exercise.

How can you address stress to lower your blood pressure? Read about techniques to help you manage your emotions and daily stressors in an effort to reduce your blood pressure reading.

Read questions and answers about the Principles of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

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