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5660 Vasodilators



Vasodilators are medications that open (dilate) blood vessels. They affect the muscles in the walls of the arteries and veins, preventing the muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing.

Vasodilation caused by relaxation of smooth muscle cells in arteries causes an increase in blood flow. When blood vessels dilate, due to a decrease in vascular resistance the blood flow is increased. Therefore, dilation of arteries and arterioles leads to an immediate decrease in arterial blood pressure and heart rate.

Vasodilators are prescribed to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in a variety of conditions. They include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy or childbirth (preeclampsia or eclampsia)
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)

Direct vasodilators which are strong medications are generally used only when other medications haven't adequately controlled your blood pressure. These medications have many side effects including:

  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fluid retention (edema)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flushing
  • Headache
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain

Besides medications, some foods are natural vasodilators like beetroot, garlic, turmeric, fish oil, kale, etc. that can be added to the diet to improve blood pressure.