How do diuretics help prevent high blood pressure (BP)?

Diuretics, which rid the body of excess fluids and salt, are the most frequently used drugs to treat high blood pressure. However, in large doses, some diuretics may deplete the body of potassium, which can lead to irregular heartbeat and reduce your glucose tolerance, which can cause diabetes. There are, however, potassium-sparing diuretics that don't cause this problem. Talk to your health care professional about your options.

Overall, diuretics are inexpensive and, in small doses, boost the effectiveness of many other antihypertensive drugs. National guidelines recommend that diuretics alone should be the first agent of choice provided you don't have any other conditions that prohibit their use. Some commonly prescribed drugs in this class include amiloride (Midamor), bumetanide (Bumex), chlorthalidone (Hygroton), chlorothiazide (Duril), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide, Esidrix, Hydrodiuril) and indapamide (Lozol).
Hypertension can be a "silent killer," causing damage to the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys, as well as increasing the risk of stroke -- even though you may feel just fine. Many of the current data from large clinical trials suggest that a low-dose diuretic of the generic thiazide class -- such as chlorthalidone or hydrochlorothiazide -- should be part of the drug treatment strategy to control hypertension in many patients. Discuss with your doctor if you are eligible for a low-dose diuretic, as the recommendation requires many individual considerations.

The thiazide medications are inexpensive, generally well tolerated at low doses, and yield improved clinical outcomes (e.g., reduced strokes) at least as well as more expensive drugs. In practice, many people with high blood pressure require more than one medication to achieve their goal levels (oftentimes more than three types of drugs). The thiazides tend to "play well with others," and work well in combination with newer classes of blood pressure medicines.
Diuretics help remove salt and water from the body which helps relax blood vessel walls thereby lowering blood pressure.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.