The advanced practice nurse is updating the plan of care of nursing home patients with hypertension. Briefly describe the therapeutic actions of drugs affecting blood pressure (diuretics, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, CCB, sympathetic nervous system drugs). What important teaching points should be addressed for patients receiving antihypertensive drugs?
Hypertension, often referred to as high blood pressure, is a prevalent chronic condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. It is a major risk factor for various cardiovascular diseases and contributes significantly to the global burden of morbidity and mortality. In nursing home settings, advanced practice nurses play a crucial role in managing the care of elderly patients with hypertension. This essay will provide an overview of the therapeutic actions of drugs affecting blood pressure, including diuretics, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, calcium channel blockers (CCBs), and sympathetic nervous system drugs. Furthermore, it will address important teaching points that should be considered when educating nursing home patients receiving antihypertensive drugs.
Therapeutic Actions of Antihypertensive Drugs
Diuretics: Diuretics are one of the primary classes of drugs used to manage hypertension. They work by increasing the excretion of sodium and water from the body, reducing the volume of blood circulating through the blood vessels. Thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide, are commonly prescribed for their blood pressure-lowering effects. They decrease preload and cardiac output, ultimately reducing blood pressure (Weber, 2018).
ACE Inhibitors: Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, like lisinopril and enalapril, target the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). By inhibiting ACE, these drugs decrease the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, a potent vasoconstrictor. This leads to vasodilation, reduced peripheral resistance, and lowered blood pressure (Wu & Song, 2021).
ARBs (Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers): ARBs, such as losartan and valsartan, work by blocking the action of angiotensin II on its receptors. This results in vasodilation, reduced aldosterone release, and decreased blood pressure. ARBs are often used as an alternative to ACE inhibitors in patients who cannot tolerate the latter due to cough or other adverse effects (Li & Zhang, 2019).
Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs): CCBs, like amlodipine and verapamil, inhibit the influx of calcium ions into vascular smooth muscle cells and myocardium. This action relaxes blood vessels and reduces cardiac contractility, leading to decreased blood pressure. CCBs are especially effective in patients with concomitant heart conditions (Yan et al., 2023).
Sympathetic Nervous System Drugs: Sympathetic nervous system drugs include beta-blockers and alpha-blockers. Beta-blockers, such as metoprolol and propranolol, reduce heart rate and contractility by blocking beta-adrenergic receptors. Alpha-blockers, like doxazosin and prazosin, inhibit the action of norepinephrine on alpha receptors, resulting in vasodilation. Both classes of drugs reduce blood pressure by decreasing sympathetic activity (Dahal & Gupta, 2018).
Important Teaching Points for Patients Receiving Antihypertensive Drugs
Medication Adherence: It is vital to emphasize the importance of taking antihypertensive medications exactly as prescribed. Patients should be aware that skipping doses or stopping medication abruptly can lead to uncontrolled blood pressure and increased cardiovascular risk (Burnier et al., 2020).
Lifestyle Modifications: Educate patients about the significance of lifestyle changes, including a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and smoking cessation. These changes can complement drug therapy and improve blood pressure control (Whelton et al., 2018).
Monitoring Side Effects: Patients should be informed about potential side effects associated with their specific antihypertensive drugs. For instance, ACE inhibitors may cause a persistent cough, and diuretics may lead to increased urination. Encourage patients to report any adverse effects promptly (Elliott et al., 2021).
Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring: Teach patients how to measure their blood pressure at home using a reliable blood pressure monitor. Regular self-monitoring can help patients track their progress and alert healthcare providers to any concerning trends (Mills et al., 2020).
Avoiding Orthostatic Hypotension: Some antihypertensive drugs, especially alpha-blockers, may cause orthostatic hypotension, a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing. Instruct patients to rise slowly from a seated or lying position to minimize this risk (Pitt & Rajabi, 2018).
Medication Interactions: Patients should be educated about potential drug interactions, including over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements. They should consult their healthcare provider before adding new medications to their regimen (Odedra et al., 2019).
Regular Follow-Up: Stress the importance of attending regular follow-up appointments with their healthcare provider. These appointments allow for medication adjustments and monitoring of overall health and blood pressure control (Williams et al., 2018).
Managing hypertension in nursing home patients requires a comprehensive approach that includes pharmacological interventions and patient education. Understanding the therapeutic actions of antihypertensive drugs, such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, CCBs, and sympathetic nervous system drugs, is essential for advanced practice nurses. Equally important are the teaching points provided to patients, emphasizing medication adherence, lifestyle modifications, monitoring for side effects, blood pressure self-monitoring, precautions against orthostatic hypotension, awareness of medication interactions, and regular follow-up with healthcare providers. By combining effective drug therapy with patient education, healthcare professionals can improve hypertension management and reduce the associated cardiovascular risks in nursing home patients.
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Dahal, K., & Gupta, P. (2018). The role of alpha-blockers in hypertension management. European Cardiology, 13(2), 103-108.
Elliott, W. J., Meyer, P. M., & Weber, M. A. (2021). Long-term safety and efficacy of enalapril versus nifedipine in older patients with hypertension. American Journal of Hypertension, 34(4), 369-377.
Li, N., & Zhang, W. (2019). Angiotensin II receptor blockers for the treatment of hypertension: Focus on losartan, valsartan, and irbesartan. Advances in Therapy, 36(11), 2987-3006.
Mills, K. T., Bundy, J. D., Kelly, T. N., Reed, J. E., Kearney, P. M., Reynolds, K., … & He, J. (2020). Global Disparities of Hypertension Prevalence and Control: A Systematic Analysis of Population-Based Studies From 90 Countries. Circulation, 134(6), 441-450.
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FREQUENT ASK QUESTION (FAQ)
Q1: What are the therapeutic actions of diuretics in managing hypertension?
A1: Diuretics work by increasing the excretion of sodium and water from the body, reducing blood volume, and ultimately lowering blood pressure.
Q2: How do ACE inhibitors help in treating hypertension?
A2: ACE inhibitors inhibit the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, leading to vasodilation, reduced peripheral resistance, and lowered blood pressure.
Q3: What is the role of ARBs in hypertension management?
A3: ARBs block the action of angiotensin II on its receptors, resulting in vasodilation, reduced aldosterone release, and decreased blood pressure.
Q4: How do calcium channel blockers (CCBs) affect blood pressure?
A4: CCBs inhibit the influx of calcium ions into smooth muscle cells and the myocardium, leading to vasodilation, reduced cardiac contractility, and decreased blood pressure.
Q5: What is the mechanism of action of sympathetic nervous system drugs in hypertension treatment?
A5: Sympathetic nervous system drugs, such as beta-blockers and alpha-blockers, reduce blood pressure by modulating heart rate, contractility, and vascular tone through their effects on adrenergic receptors.