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Treating high blood pressure is discussed fully in the main text. Diuretics and beta-blockers are discussed elsewhere here and should be the first-line treatments from Gps and specialists. If complementary methods and these basic drugs do not work, people with high blood pressure will be introduced to calcium antagonists or ACE inhibitors.

Calcium antagonists block the movement of calcium in the muscles surrounding the blood vessels. Calcium is responsible for the tension in these muscles and thereby the width of the arteries. The narrower the tubes, the higher the pressure.

Angiotension-converting enzyme inhibitors block the production of a chemical produced by the kidneys that works directly on blood vessels again to narrow the lumen. By blocking this enzyme the blood vessels remain wider, thereby artificially reducing blood pressure.

Both of these drugs have their place in modern medicine for uncontrolled high blood pressure but both should be considered only when other treatments have failed and only under the care of a specialist initially. Other antihypertensive drugs are being discovered, analysed and introduced regularly and my comments on last-resort and specialist care apply to these as well.

Except in acute and sudden cases of raised blood pressure, alternative treatments should be tried initially because all these drugs are geared towards suppressing the high blood pressure without any interest in dealing with the underlying cause.

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