Vasodilators

Vasodilators treat a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure. Find out more about this class of medication.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Vasodilators are medications that open (dilate) blood vessels. They affect the muscles in the walls of your arteries and veins, preventing the muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing.

As a result, blood flows more easily through your vessels. Your heart doesn't have to pump as hard, reducing your blood pressure.

Some drugs used to treat hypertension, such as calcium channel blockers — which prevent calcium from entering blood vessel walls — also dilate blood vessels. But the vasodilators that work directly on the vessel walls are hydralazine and minoxidil.

Uses for vasodilators

Doctors prescribe vasodilators to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in a variety of conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy or childbirth (preeclampsia or eclampsia)
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
June 10, 2016 See more In-depth