Many of you who may have high blood pressure are thinking about or taking blood pressure medication. Various kinds of BP medicines are frequently discussed which raises many questions. A common one is, are blood pressure meds blood thinners?
Blood pressure meds are not blood thinners. Blood thinners thin the blood to keep blood cells from sticking together or increases the time it takes blood clots to form. Blood pressure medications decrease the amount of water in the body, relax and dilate blood vessels or make the heart beat with less force.
This blog post will explain how blood pressure and blood thinner medication works in more detail and the differences between the two. Many have asked if their specific BP medication is a blood thinner. I’ll tackle all of this and more!
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Are Blood Pressure Meds Blood Thinners?
As stated, blood pressure medications are not blood thinners. They both perform different functions and have a different purpose. To explain why they’re not the same, let’s compare the two and see how each one works.
How Blood Thinners Work
There are two types of blood thinners, Anticoagulants and antiplatelets 1. While these drugs are called blood thinners, they don’t actually thin the blood.
Their main purpose is to prevent blood clots from forming 2. While we need blood clotting, like when you cut your arm, other blood clots that lodge in a blood vessel are dangerous and possibly fatal.
Antiplatelet drugs prevent platelets from sticking together in the blood forming a blood clot 3. They are used to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Antiplatelet medication typically is prescribed for those with heart or cardiovascular disease.
Anticoagulants help prevent fibrins in the blood. Fibrins are strand shaped proteins that forms a mesh that traps red blood cells forming a clot. Anticoagulants are typically prescribed for those with blood vessel, heart and lung conditions 4.
Which medications are blood thinners? The following medications are blood thinners:
- Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
- Enoxaparin (Lovenox)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
- Endoxaban (Savaysa)
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Dipyridamole (Persantine)
- Ticlopidine (Ticlid)
- Prasugrel (Effient)
- Ticagrelor (Brilinta)
How Blood Pressure Medication Works
It common for people to think blood pressure medication and blood thinners do the same thing. Many clients have asked, does blood pressure medicine thin your blood?
Blood pressure medicine doesn’t thin your blood. Blood pressure medicine either makes the heart beat with less force, decreases excess fluid in the body, relax blood vessels or blocks nerve activity which constricts blood vessels.
There are 11 different categories of blood pressure medication 5. The following are the most common.
Diuretics increases the amount of urine the body produces 6. This causes the body to lose excess water and sodium. Blood volume decreases which leads to lower blood pressure.
The following are diuretics medications:
- Metolazone (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
- Bumetanide (Bumex)
- Amiloride (Midamor)
- Indapamide (Lozol)
- Triamterene (Dyrenium)
- Chlorthalidone (Hygroton)
- Chlorothiazide (Diuril)
- Furosemide (Lasix)
- Hydrochlorothiazide (Hydrodiuril, Esidrix, Microzide)
- Spironolactone (Aldactone)
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ACE inhibitors work by limiting or blocking the angiotensin-converting enzyme which has a narrowing effect on the blood vessels 7. Blocking the enzyme keeps the blood vessels relaxed and more open which keeps blood pressure lower.
The following are ACE Inhibitor medications:
- Captopril (Capoten)
- Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
- Benazepril (Lotensin)
- Ramipril (Altace)
- Enalapril (Vasotec)
- Moexipril (Univasc)
- Fosinopril (Monopril)
- Perindopril (Aceon)
- Quinapril (Accupril)
- Trandolapril (Mavik)
Beta-blockers blocks the action of certain hormones in the nervous system 8. This slows down the heart rate and decreases the strength of each heartbeat. This decreases the force of the blood pumped through the blood vessels.
In addition, beta-blockers obstruct the production of adriotensin ll which helps to relax and open up the blood vessels. The following are Beta-blockers medications:
- Nadolol (Corgard)
- Timolol (Blocadren)
- Sotalol (Betapace)
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Acebutolol (Sectral)
- Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
- Betaxolol (Kerlone)
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Pindolol (Visken)
- Nebivolol (Bystolic)
- Penbutolol (Levatol)
- Metoprolol (Toprol XL, Lopressor)
- Carteolol (Cartrol)
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers relax the muscles surrounding the blood vessels keeping them more open 9. In addition, they decrease the heart rate and strength of each heartbeat which pumps the blood with less force through the blood vessels.
The following are calcium channel blockers medications:
- Amlodipine (Norvasc)
- Verapamil (Covera, Isoptin, Calan, Verelan)
- Isradipine (DynaCirc)
- Bepridil (Vasocor)
- Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, Dilacor)
- Felodipine (Plendil)
- Nicardipine (Cardene)
- Nifedipine (Adatta, Procardia)
- Nisoldipine (Sular)
Angiotensin ll Receptor Blockers
Angiotensin ll blockers block the action of angiotensin ll by preventing it from binding to angiotensin ll receptors on the muscles surrounding blood vessels 10. This allows the blood vessels to open up lowering blood pressure.
The following are angiotensin ll receptor blockers medications:
- Candesartan (Atacand)
- Eprosartan (Teveten)
- Losartan (Cozaar)
- Irbesartan (Avapro)
- Valsartan (Diovan)
- Telmisartan (Micardis)
Do Blood Thinners Lower Blood Pressure?
How about the opposite? Many people think since blood thinners thin the blood, they might lower blood pressure. Therefore, another common question is, do blood thinners lower blood pressure?
Blood thinners do not lower blood pressure or thin the blood. Some blood thinners, antiplatelet, prevent blood platelets from sticking together. Other blood thinners, anticoagulants, prevent fibrins from forming which traps red blood cells forming a blood clot.
A common blood pressure medication is lisinopril. Many people ask, is lisinopril a blood thinner?
Lisinopril is not a blood thinner, it’s an ACE Inhibitor blood pressure medication. ACE inhibitors limit or block the angiotensin-converting enzyme which has a narrowing effect on the blood vessels. This helps lower blood pressure but does not thin the blood.
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Disclaimer: The medications, medicine information, side effects listed in this article are for information and reference only. Blood Pressure Explained does not endorse or recommend any specific medication. It’s important to consult with your physician and pharmacist about any medication you may be taking as they are the best sources of information. Never stop taking medication or change your dose without consulting with the prescribing physician.
Read Next – More Blood Pressure Medicine Articles!
- The American Heart Association: Types of Heart Medications
- AHRQ: Blood Thinner Pills: Your Guide to Using Them Safely
- Medline Plus: Blood Thinners
- Harvard Health: Understanding blood thinners
- Brigham Health Brigham And Women’s Hospital: Medications Used in Treatment of Heart and Vascular Disease
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Diuretics in primary hypertension – reloaded
- CDC: Blood Pressure Medications
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Beta Blockers
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Calcium Channel Blockers
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Angiotensin ll Receptor Blockers (ARB)