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FF009 – Common Anti-hypertensive Medications (Friday Freebies)

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Total Listening Time - 6 |

Let’s talk about antihypertensives . . . these are meds that you are going to be giving a LOT of, so it’s important to be familiar with them.

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Podcast Transcription

There’s a couple medications that you absolutely have to know and have to understand as a nurse. Things like insulin, heparin, and another one is the class of antihypertensives. Antihypertensives are given so commonly in hospitals because so many patients suffer from hypertension. It’s growing more and more, patients are suffering from hypertension, whether that’s idiopathic, due to old age, due to another condition et cetera. Antihypertensives are very common in the hospital.

The Friday freebie that was sent out today covers some of the most common antihypertensives, their classes, common meds in those classes, and common side effects for each of the different classes. If you’re not getting the Friday freebies, what these are is we send them out in PDF format, something you can print out a nice beautiful color, charts, graphs, books, whatever, all kinds of stuff that we send out covering basically every topic in nursing. To get started with those, head over to nrsng.com/freebies. Nrsng.com/freebies. You can get started with these and next week you’ll get the Friday freebie and you’ll be able to come back, listen to this, and really use what we’re talking about here briefly to look over this cheat sheet. But these are things you can carry with you to clinical, to class throughout your career and they’re going to be of a tremendous help to you. Please get started with those, nrsng.com/freebies.

But common antihypertensives that we’re going to talk about, the most common ones, or not necessarily the most common ones, but three common ones that you’re going to be giving a lot are ace inhibitors, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers or CCBs. You might see it written as CCBs. Ace inhibitors, you can generally identify those because they end with the suffix pril. P-R-I-L. Ace inhibitor, think pril. Three common ones that you might see most often are enalapril, lisinopril, or captopril. Most likely the one you’ll see most often is going to be lisinopril, a very common antihypertensive. Some of the common side effects you’re going to need to keep in mind with this is dizziness, headache, drowsiness, low BP of course, rash, and cough.

One thing that you might see in patients of African American descent is you might see them develop angioedema. What happens with angioedema is their face begins to swell, their tongue swells, their lips swell, everything swells, and that can lead to cutting off their airway, so it’s a very important thing to notice, to recognize, to teach them about because you might see patients come into the hospital who have taken their ace inhibitor after not taking them for quite a while and they develop angioedema. Keep that in mind with that.

Another one is beta blockers. Hopefully you guys remember how to recognize beta blockers with the suffix O-L-O-L. Okay, O-L-O-L. Some common ones are propranolol, atenolol, metoprolol, timolol, esmolol. One of the most common ones you’re going to see is metoprolol. Common side effects of this is that beta blockers can actually mask hypoglycemia. With your diabetic patients you want to make sure they understand that it can mask hypoglycemia for these patients, and so keep that in mind as you’re educating them. It can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, headache, and constipation.

Now remember, what we’re doing is we’re blocking our beta adrenergic receptors, and so by doing this we’re actually trying to prevent vasoconstriction. But with all of our adrenergic receptors, that’s like our fight-or-flight system, right. What can happen here too is we slow our digestive tract causing constipation, we can cause fatigue, we can cause shortness of breath. We’re doing all these things that we’re trying to, to try to prevent this vasoconstriction et cetera.

Then we have our calcium channel blockers or our CCBs. These are going to end in I-P-I-N-E. Nifedipine, nicardipine and lodipine, verapamil is another one and diltiazem. Verapamil and diltiazem don’t end in I-P-I-N-E, but you will have nifedipine, nicardipine and lodopine, very common ones. Calcium channel blockers, okay. Some of the common side effects of this is going to be lightheadedness, low BP, low heart rate, GERD, drowsiness, constipation.

Now this is a really quick overview guys. What we’ve done in our MedMaster course, which is part of the NRSNG Academy is we go on a deeper dive of these. We talk about why the side effects happen because memorizing side effects is basically impossible. What you have to do is you have to remember how these medications work, the mechanism of action. Once you understand how and why they work, it’s very easy to come up with the side effects like we talked about really briefly with the beta blockers. Once you understand what they’re blocking and what that means, you can then work backwards really quickly to uncover what’s going to happen if we over-block or over-do with these medications. That’s the cheat sheet for today. It’s common antihypertensive drugs, very helpful cheat sheet to have with you as these are very common medications you’re going to be giving. Again, to get started with these, head over to nrsng.com/freebies. All right guys, now it’s time to go out and be your best self today. Happy nursing.

Date Published - Mar 17, 2017
Date Modified - Mar 14, 2017

Jon Haws

Written by Jon Haws

Jon RN CCRN is a critical care nurse at a Level I Trauma center in Dallas, TX. His passions include learning about anatomy and physiology and teaching. When he isn't busting out content for NRSNG.com he loves spending time with his family.