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General Medical Questions
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Question : If I take blood pressure medicines and don’t really need them, will it damage my heart?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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December 20, 2011
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A:

No, they will not damage your heart. And your doctor may have prescribed a blood pressure medicine for reasons other than lowering your blood pressure.

Many blood pressure medicines can treat conditions other than hypertension. And for some heart conditions, they can help keep the heart strong and prevent heart damage. This is often true even when blood pressure is on the low side of normal.

Here are examples of blood pressure medicines that have other uses:

Diuretics, such as chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide, are excellent blood pressure drugs. But they can also decrease leg swelling and improve the symptoms of heart failure even with normal blood pressure.

Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) can help people with heart failure live longer and better, even if their blood pressure is a little low. These drugs also help prevent kidney failure in people with diabetes. Examples of ACE inhibitors include lisinopril and ramipril.

Beta blockers, such as propranolol and metoprolol, have many uses, including:

  • Decreasing how often and severe migraine attacks come on
  • Slowing down the heart rate in people with angina or an overactive thyroid gland
  • Helping control hand tremor
  • Lowering the risk of a second heart attack

Calcium channel blockers, such as diltiazem and verapamil, have many uses too. They help:

  • Decrease migraine attacks
  • Prevent the pain and color changes of fingers and toes common with Raynaud’s disease
  • Slow down the heart rate of people with atrial fibrillation and other heart rhythms

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