Vasodilators are effective at lowering blood pressure quickly. They are most often used in combination with other blood pressure medicines. When used alone they can cause you to retain fluid and your heart to beat too quickly.

Common Names of Vasodilators

The following table lists some of the common brand and generic names for vasodilator medicines.

brand generic
Apresoline hydralazine HCI
Loniten minoxidil


How Vasodilators Work

This type of medicine lowers blood pressure by relaxing, or widening, the smooth muscles in the inner walls of your blood vessels. This allows blood to flow through your blood vessels more easily. The result is a decrease in your blood pressure.

Precautions and Possible Side Effects

Precautions to take when you are on vasodilators:

  • Keep all your follow-up appointments with your doctor. This class of medicines may cause dangerously low blood pressure. Your doctor will monitor you carefully to prevent this effect.
Possible side effects of vasodilators:
  • dizziness
  • fluid retention
  • headache
  • nausea
  • palpitations or changes in the heart rate
  • skin rash

Not everyone who takes a vasodilator will have these side effects. You should not be afraid to take your medicine because of the side effects listed. They are listed so that you can watch out for them and tell your doctor right away if you experience any of them.

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Possible Drug Interactions with Vasodilators

Before you take a vasodilator, tell your doctor and your pharmacist about all the medicines you take. Include medicines you take for your blood pressure as well as for any other problem. Tell them about everything you take and how much you take each day, including all of the following:

  • prescription medicines
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • herbs
  • vitamin and mineral supplements

It's best to keep an updated list of these and bring a copy to give to your doctor. That way you can add to it whenever you take something new or delete the types you no longer take. Make a copy for each of your doctors so that they can keep it in your file. This complete list helps your doctor be better prepared to prescribe a vasodilator that is the least likely to interact with your other treatments.

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