How blood pressure medicine works, Part IV
This is the fourth and final installment in a series of articles on blood pressure and the medications used to control high blood pressure. After a quick “plumbing” lesson, the series covered such medications as diuretics (fluid pills), beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers.
There are just a couple of hypertension (HTN) drugs left that are worth mentioning for you Kings of the Highways and you Queens of the Interstates.
Central acting agent drugs make the central nervous system relax the blood vessels. The most common one is Catapres. This is not a drug that we would recommend for a driver, since the central acting agent can make one sleepy and cause blackouts. Doctors use Catapres for the emergency treatment of extremely elevated blood pressure when there is danger of a massive stroke.
The last drug is an alpha-blocker. The medication known as Terazosin (Hytrin) does the same thing as a central acting agent but works on the receptors that cause a blood vessel to relax and dilate, thus lowering the blood pressure. This is a good drug for drivers for other reasons and primarily for men drivers. Terazosin increases the urinary stream and gives a boost to one’s erectile tissues for sexual activity. The only caveat would be to take the medication when going to bed and not in the morning. Terazosin also can make one sleepy and can cause dizziness and blackouts. The latter is rare, but we must be careful.
This is the last of the blasts for HTN medications, and I hope you now have an idea of the range of medications doctors have to treat drivers. The problem doctors face is whether the driver can afford the medication.
Always make sure that your doctor knows what you can afford. Generic medications are very inexpensive in some stores. However, sometimes the best drug for you may not be the generic drug. The newer brand names have lower side effect profiles, and in most cases patients don’t know they’re taking the medication.
Remember, find yourself a good family doctor and make sure he or she knows that you drive a truck for a living.
Dr. John McElligott is the founder of Professional Drivers Medical Depots (pd-md.com), a planned nationwide network of medical clinics located at truck stops and travel centers.