Vasodilators are drugs that widen blood vessels. Improving blood flow from narrowing blood vessels taking much-needed oxygen levels to areas of the body that could be at risk. Angina is one such risk, caused by the narrowing of the coronary arteries.

In angina dilation of the blood vessels throughout the body will help ease the workload on the heart muscle by reducing how much force the heart applies when pumping blood throughout the body. This action may also be of use to sufferers of congestive heart failure where other treatments have not been effective. In part blood pressure relies on the diameter of the blood vessels which could make vasodilators helpful in treating hypertension.

When narrowing blood vessels (peripheral vascular disease) in the legs cannot supply sufficient blood to the extremities (hands and feet) it often leads to pain in the legs during exercise, because the vessels are narrowed by atherosclerosis, vasodilators have very little effect.

How They Work

As mentioned vasodilators work by widening the blood vessels, this is done by directly relaxing the muscles that surround them with calcium channel blockers; nitrates; and hydralazine (see below) or by interfering with the nerve signals that govern contraction of the blood vessels, using medication known as alpha-blockers. ACE inhibitors act by blocking the activity of an enzyme in the blood. This particular enzyme is responsible for producing angiotensin II a powerful vasoconstrictor.

How They Affect You

They are efficient at relieving the symptoms of the disorder for which they are taken, but vasodilators can come with many minor side effects relating to their action on the circulation.

At the start of treatment headaches and flushing are common complaints, and because of the lowered blood pressure, it is possible to suffer from dizziness and fainting which can also occur. It is possible to suffer from a swelling of the feet and ankles due to the dilation of the blood vessels which may cause a fluid build-up.

Because there is a possibility of blood pressure falling to low (hypotension), when on this medication, it would be prescribed with caution to those individuals who suffer from unstable blood pressure. You would also be advised to sit or lie down for a little while when you have taken the initial dose.

Listed below a number of the most common medications used to improve blood flow.

ACE Inhibitors Calcium Chanel Blockers Angiotensin II Blockers
Captopril Amlodipine Candesartan
Cilazapril Diltiazem Eprosartan
Enalapril Felodipine Irbesartan
Fosinopril Isradipine Losartan
Imidapril Lecideine Telmisartan
Lisinopril Lercanidipine Valsartan
Moeexpril Nicardipine ….
Perindopril Nifedipine ….
Quinapril Nisoldipine ….
Ramipril Verapamil ….
Trandolapril ….….
Alpha Blockers Nitrates Potassium Channel Activators
Doxazosin Glyceryl Trinitrate Nicorandil
Indoramin Isosorbide Dinitrate/Mononitrate