Alpha blockers

Alpha blockers, also called alpha-adrenergic antagonists, treat conditions such as high blood pressure and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Find out more about this class of medication.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Alpha blockers relax certain muscles and help small blood vessels remain open. They work by keeping the hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline) from tightening the muscles in the walls of smaller arteries and veins, which causes the vessels to remain open and relaxed. This improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.

Because alpha blockers also relax other muscles throughout the body, these medications can help improve urine flow in older men with prostate problems.

Examples of alpha blockers

Several alpha blockers are available, in either short-acting or long-acting forms. Short-acting medications work quickly, but their effects last only a few hours. Long-acting medications take longer to work, but their effects last longer. Which alpha blocker is best for you depends on your health and the condition being treated.

Alpha blockers are also called alpha-adrenergic blocking agents, alpha-adrenergic antagonists, adrenergic blocking agents and alpha-blocking agents.

Examples of alpha blockers used to treat high blood pressure include:

  • Doxazosin (Cardura)
  • Prazosin (Minipress)
  • Terazosin
June 15, 2016 See more In-depth