What are selective and nonselective alpha blockers?

Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Alpha blockers come in two forms: selective and nonselective. Because nonselective alpha blockers can lower blood pressure, they aren't the right choice for every man. Some doctors are hesitant to prescribe nonselective alpha blockers for men who are already on another blood pressure medication. Taking several antihypertensive drugs at once can cause an excessive drop in blood pressure, producing faintness or dizziness, especially when getting up from a chair or out of bed. Sudden episodes of low blood pressure can be dangerous for men with vascular disease, which places them at high risk for a heart attack or stroke. However, the selective alpha blockers are more specific to the prostate and don't lower blood pressure, making them useful for men who don't need or couldn't tolerate this additional effect.

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