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Alpha Blockers

Overview

Alpha blockers are alpha adrenergic receptor antagonists that relax certain muscles and keep small blood vessels open. These receptors are widely distributed in the blood vessels of the heart, prostate and bladder neck. They block the tightening of muscles and causes relaxation of vessels. In arteries, it improves the blood flow to the heart and lowers blood pressure (antihypertensive effect). In bladder area it facilities easy flow of urine so recommended in Benign prostate hyperplasia, acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis like conditions that are generally experienced by the elderly people.

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Hypertension

It is a condition in which there are persistent high levels of blood pressure. This all increases the work load of the heart. Alpha blockers are prescribed in order to get low levels of blood pressure. They tend to relax the constricted blood vessel and aids smooth blood flow and reduce the blood pressure. They alone or in combination with other antihypertensive drugs help to lower the elevated levels of blood pressure.

Enlargement of prostate glands

Prostate gland enlargement is a common condition experienced by the men as they get older. Conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatic hypertrophy can cause bothersome urinary symptoms. Untreated prostate gland enlargement can block the flow of urine out of the bladder and can cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems. It affects the quality of life by interfering with daily activities and normal sleep patterns

Symptoms & Risk factors

The exact reason is still unknown but some studies have revealed that hormonal changes lead to the development of this condition. With advancement in age, there is increase in the dihydrotestosterone hormone which leads to the prostate enlargement. Aged men are more prone to this disease. Genetic tendency, other disease condition such as diabetes or hypertension also influences the prostate enlargement. Obese patients are more likely to have benign prostate hyperplasia. High intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids and beef content increases the risk by 25% of developing Prostate related problems.

Alpha blockers spectrum

They have a role in lowering blood pressure and are a very important part of Hypertension pharmacotherapy. Other than this, they have a major role in curing Prostate related problems.

A wide variety of treatments are available for enlarged prostate conditions. They include medications and minimal invasive surgery. The best treatment choice for you depends upon several factors such as age, prostate size and how bad or undesirable your symptoms are. If the problem is in initial stage, then one can adopt wait and see approach. The most common and well accepted therapy in treating urological problems and benign prostate hormone is use of alpha blockers. These are of two types one is non selective alpha blockers and selective alpha blockers. Nonselective alpha-blockers for treatment of BPH include:

  • Terazosin 
  • Doxazosin 

Selective alpha-blockers for treatment of BPH are:

They are basically centrally acting agents which bind to the alpha receptors and reverse their action. They relax the bladder neck muscles and fibers in the prostate itself and facilitate smooth urine out flow. Tamsulosin, Finasteride, Dutasteride is fast acting agents and within two or three days a person will experience smooth urine out flow. Tamsulosin offers high bioavailability and a long life of 9 to 15 hours. It is metabolized extensively in the liver. It has greater affinity for the alpha receptors present in the prostate smooth muscle than other smooth muscle site. USFDA has approved the dual combination of Tamsulosin with Dutasteride in the treatment of Benign Prostate hormone. Dutasteride acts by blocking the action of hormone i.e. 5 alpha reductase enzymes that forms dihydrotestosterone which causes enlargement of prostate gland. It helps in decreasing the size of the prostate and the uncomfortable associated symptoms. This combination has shown to interact with other drugs such as Atazanavir, Clarithromycin, Indinavir and Ketoconazole, so simultaneous consumption should be avoided.

Clinical profile of alpha blockers

Extensive studies have deduced its excellent efficacy in improving symptoms and reducing the risk of acute urinary retention in patients having prostatic inflammation. In a study, done over 4857 men with benign prostate hormone it has shown dramatic improvement in lowering urinary tract symptoms and increasing the quality of life.

Side effects

Side effects differ from person to person. General minor side effects of alpha blockers include

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Light-headedness, dizziness, or fainting when you stand up suddenly after sitting or lying down
  • Headache 
  • Nasal congestion
  • Retrograde ejaculation of the semen into bladder 
  • Liver toxicity
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypotension
  • Decreased blood count

Warnings

Always tell your Doctor, that you are taking alpha blockers if you are planning for cataract surgery. It may cause intra-operative floppy iris syndrome and may show fewer side effects like postural hypotension.

Erectile dysfunction medicines like Sildenafil, Vardenafil and Tadalafil may interact with alpha blockers and can cause severe dizziness or light-headedness. If a Benign Prostate Hormone patient is suffering from hypertension too, he may need another antihypertensive medicine to lower your blood pressure. It is very important to follow up with your Doctor on regular basis in order to enquire the health status and proper working of the drug.

Use of Alpha blockers is contraindicated in pregnant women and children. Women who may become pregnant should not handle or touch the capsules. Dutasteride can be easily absorbed transdermally and can cause birth defects in male fetuses. So whenever any pregnant women touch the medicine or broken capsule, she should immediately wash the affected area with soap and water.

Also read: Kill The Silent Killer “ High Blood Pressure ” Before It Kills You

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