Vasodilators are drugs that dilate, or open, your blood vessels. They work by relaxing the smooth muscles in your blood vessel’s walls. Thus, preventing them from tightening which causes narrowing.
So, vasodilators increase blood flow due to less resistance and your heart gets a break because it doesn’t have to pump as hard. Of vital importance, your blood pressure is reduced as a consequence.
There are different vasodilators and which one is prescribed depends on your health and the condition that needs to be treated. A couple of prescription only vasodilation drugs are:
A liquid form of minoxidil is sold without a prescription which is applied directly to the scalp for hair growth promotion benefiting some types of baldness. And OTC niacin is sometimes taken because it causes your peripheral blood vessels to dilate, thus increasing blood flow to your extremities.
Vasodilators are prescribed to increase blood flow in an effort to prevent, treat or rectify symptoms caused by array of conditions, like:
- heart failure
- erectile dysfunction
- mitral valve prolapse
- cardiovascular disease
- coronary artery disease
- pulmonary hypertension
- Raynaud’s phenomenon caused skin ulcers
- scleroderma caused pulmonary hypertension
- high blood pressure during pregnancy, childbirth
Drugs that cause vasodilation don’t cure high blood pressure, but they sure help control it. And you may need to take them for the rest of your life.
Because drugs that cause vasodilation are strong medications they’re generally used only after other treatments haven’t taken care your health issue.
As with most drugs, vasodilators are not without their side effects. Some side effects resulting from dilated blood vessel for increased flow include:
- skin rash
- chest pain
- sore throat
- loss of appetite
- nausea, vomiting
- nasal congestion
- swollen lymph nodes
- orthostatic hypotension
- pain, paresthesia in hands, feet
If you have rosacea, vasodilators can cause flare-ups. In addition, some vasodilators can increase your risk of developing lupus, a connective tissue disease, and may make pheochromocytomas more active.