Alpha blockers

Alpha blockers, also called alpha-adrenergic antagonists, treat a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, benign prostatic hyperplasia and Raynaud's disease. 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. Blocking that effect 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

Many 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 start working, but their effects last longer. Which one 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)
Feb. 01, 2014 See more In-depth