Diuretics

Diuretics (water tablets) reduce blood pressure making kidneys to excrete salt and water. Diuretics are one of the first line agents in treatment of hypertension in people over 55 years of age and they are also often used in combination with ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers

Apart from blood pressure control, diuretics are also used for treatment of heart failure to improve breathlessness and leg swelling. Diuretics are not suitable in pregnancy and in people suffering from gout (painful joints due to the accumulation of urate crystals).

Types of diuretics

  • Thiazide diuretics- these include bendroflumethiazide, indapamide, hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone and metolazone
  • Loop diuretics- These include furosemide and bumetanide
  • Potassium sparing diuretics- These are amiloride, spironolactone and eplerenone, spironolactone

Side effects

Thiazide and loop diuretics reduce amount of potassium in the blood and may affect heart rhythm and kidney function. Some of them also increase sugar level in the blood and may predispose to diabetes. It is important to have regular checks at least every six months to check kidney function and glucose level in the blood. Headaches, muscle cramps, increased thirst, joint pain and dizziness are some other possible side effects of diuretics.