This class of drugs is often used to treat cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension.
Vasodilators are a group of medicines that dilate (open) blood vessels, which allows blood to flow more easily.
They're used to treat or prevent:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Heart failure
- Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
- Angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart)
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs)
Vasodilators are often combined with other drugs and are rarely used alone.
Types of Vasodilators
There are different types of vasodilators, including:
- Arterial dilators (mainly affect the arteries)
- Venous dilators (mainly affect the veins)
- Mixed dilators (affect veins and arteries)
Arterial dilators are typically prescribed to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, while venous dilators are effective for angina and heart failure.
Your doctor will decide which vasodilator is right for you.
The following are commonly prescribed vasodilators:
- ACE inhibitors
Side Effects of Vasodilators
Side Effects of vasodilators may include:
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations (fluttering or pounding heartbeat)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fluid retention
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excessive hair growth
- Nasal congestion
Tell your doctor about any other medical conditions you have before starting on a vasodilator.
Vasodilators may help control your high blood pressure, but they won't cure the condition.
Your doctor may suggest that you follow a special diet while taking vasodilators. Follow these instructions carefully.
Vasodilators can cause dizziness. Don't drive or perform activities that require alertness until you know how these medicines affect you.
Tell your healthcare provider that you're taking a vasodilator before having any type of medical procedure, including dental procedures.
Your doctor will want to perform frequent tests to monitor your body's response to these medicines. Keep all appointments with your doctor's office and laboratory.
Let your doctor know about all prescription, non-prescription, illegal, recreational, herbal, nutritional, or dietary drugs you're taking before starting on a vasodilator.
Vasodilators and Alcohol
Alcohol may interfere with how vasodilators work in your body.
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking these medicines.
Vasodilators and Pregnancy
Tell your doctor if you're pregnant or might become pregnant while taking a vasodilator.
Some of these medicines can cause unwanted effects in unborn babies.
You'll have to discuss the risks and benefits of taking vasodilators during pregnancy.
Also, talk to your healthcare provider before taking a vasodilator if you're breastfeeding.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
- Vasodilators, Mayo Clinic.
- Types of Blood Pressure Medications, The American Heart Association.