What are centrally acting alpha agonists?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Centrally acting alpha agonists are sometimes used to treat high blood pressure. They are not considered first-line therapy because they cause more side effects than other types of blood pressure medication. These drugs affect parts of the brain that control blood pressure and the nerves that control the blood vessels. Clonidine (Catapres) is the most often used drug in this class. Other drugs in this class are guanabenz, guanfacine (Tenex), and methyldopa.

Clonidine is more helpful for people with certain conditions. It can help prevent hot flashes due to menopause. And it is sometimes used by people who are quitting smoking. Clonidine is available in a patch that is applied once a week. 

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