Central-acting agents, also called central adrenergic inhibitors, treat several conditions, including high blood pressure, drug withdrawal and hot flashes. Find out more about these medications.By Mayo Clinic Staff
Central-acting agents lower your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure. They work by preventing your brain from sending signals to your nervous system to speed up your heart rate and narrow your blood vessels. As a result, your heart doesn't pump as hard and your blood flows more easily through your blood vessels.
Central-acting agents are also called central adrenergic inhibitors, central alpha agonists and central agonists. Several central-acting agents are available. Which one is best for you depends on your health and the condition being treated.
Examples of central-acting agents include:
- Clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay)
- Guanfacine (Intuniv, Tenex)
Doctors prescribe central-acting agents to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in conditions, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Hot flashes
- Drug withdrawal
- Tourette syndrome
These medications can have strong side effects, so they aren't commonly used. Side effects include:
- Drowsiness or sedation
- Abnormally slow heart rate
- Dry mouth
Abruptly stopping use of some central-acting agents can cause a sudden, dangerous increase in blood pressure. Don't stop taking these medications without talking to your doctor.
June 28, 2016
- Kaplan NM, et al. Treatment of hypertension: Drug therapy. In: Kaplan's Clinical Hypertension. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015. http://www.ovid.com/site/index.jsp. Accessed June 4, 2016.
- Types of blood pressure medications. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Types-of-Blood-Pressure-Medications_UCM_303247_Article.jsp. Accessed June 4, 2016.
- Vongpatanasin W, et al. Central sympatholytic drugs. The Journal of Clinical Hypertension. 2011;13:658.
- Guanfacine hydrochloride. Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedexsolutions.com. Accessed June 10, 2016.