Blood pressure is an essential element of personal health. You need enough pressure to ensure that your tissue and organs get the blood they need to keep them strong and alive. However, too much pressure can be a serious problem, damaging organs and putting you at risk of a stroke, heart attack, kidney failure or loss of vision.
Blood pressure medications come in a number of different forms:
- ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors—This drug prevents the body from producing a substance that tightens your blood vessels, relaxing the vessels and lowering the pressure.
- Beta-blockers—A beta-blocker slows down your heartbeat and lessens the strength of each beat, so that your blood is pumped through your veins with less force.
- Diuretics—A diuretic increases the amount of urine you produce. When you eliminate more urine, you get rid of salt and water, decreasing the volume and pressure of your blood.
- Calcium channel blockers—This medication decreases the speed and strength of your heartbeats, and relaxes the muscles around your blood vessels.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers—This drug works much like an ACE inhibitor, but instead of blocking the production of the substance that tightens veins, it prevents that substance from having any effect on your blood vessels.
Some studies have found a correlation between the use of ACE inhibitors and increased risk of lung cancer. Research indicates that the ACE inhibitors can increase the buildup of the chemicals bradykinin and substance P, both of which are found on lung cancer tissue.
Studies have suggested that diuretics may contribute to an increased risk of renal cell carcinoma, particularly in women. Diuretics have also been linked to increased incidences of breast cancer in women.