What are the differences between Alpha Blockers and 5-Alpha-reductase inhibitors and examples of each
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 include:
Doctors prescribe alpha blockers to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in conditions such as:
High blood pressure
Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
Some circulatory conditions, such as Raynaud's disease
Hardening and thickening of the skin (scleroderma)
Adrenal gland tumors (pheochromocytoma)
Though alpha blockers are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, they're typically not preferred as the first treatment option. Instead, they're used in combination with other drugs, such as diuretics, when your high blood pressure is difficult to control.
Side effects and cautions
Alpha blockers may have what's called a "first-dose effect." When you first start taking an alpha blocker, you may develop pronounced low blood pressure and dizziness, which can make you suddenly faint when you rise from a sitting or lying position.
Other side effects include headache, pounding heartbeat, nausea, weakness, weight gain and small decreases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol).
Alpha blockers can increase or decrease the effects of other medications you take. Tell your doctor if you take any other medications, such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers or medications used for erectile dysfunction, if you're prescribed an alpha blocker.
I hope this helps you
There are several classes of medicines available to treat BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy). These include:
Alpha 1-blockers. Examples include doxazosin, prazosin, tamsulosin, terazosin, and alfuzosin.
These medications relax the muscles of the bladder neck and prostate. This allows easier urination. Most people treated with alpha 1-blocker medication find that it helps their symptoms. Alpha blockers are also used to treat high blood pressure.
5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors. Examples include Finasteride and dutasteride.
These medicines lower levels of hormones produced by the prostate, reduce the size of the prostate gland, increase urine flow rate, and decrease symptoms of BPH. It may take 3 to 6 months before you notice much improvement in your symptoms.
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