Alpha Blockers Uses, Examples, Side Effects and Alternatives

Alpha blockers (also commonly known as the alpha-adrenergic antagonist) are used for the treatment of a number of conditions like Raynaud’s disease, benign prostatic hyperplasia and hypertension. This drug class tends to cause relaxation of some muscles and assist in the dilation of the small blood vessels. Alpha blockers produce its action by inhibiting norepinephrine from causing the constriction of muscles inside the walls of small veins and arteries. As a result the vessels stay dilated and relaxed ultimately controlling the high blood pressure across the vessel walls.

What Are Alpha Blockers Used For?

An alpha blocker is commonly prescribed for the following conditions:

Even when they are indicated for the treatment of hypertension, alpha blockers aren’t really the first choice of drug class for the condition and are often given along with other drugs like diuretics.

Alpha Blockers Examples and List

Given below is the list that includes both selective and non-selective alpha blocker drugs.

The selective alpha blockers include following drugs:

The non-selective alpha blockers list comprises of following drugs:


A single daily preparation of terazosin or doxazosin is often recommended to treat hypertension. These preparations promote patient compliance as there is less clutter and more ease and patient can easily remember to take them once daily. HoweverPrazosin require multiple dosing each day like 2-3 times. Prazosin can produce a significant decline in blood pressure after the intake of first dose.

A single daily preparation of terazosin, Tamsulosin, Doxazosin or Alfuzosin is often recommended to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. The single daily dosing is less likely to cause that many side effects which result from multiple dosing.

Alpha Blockers Side Effects

However these drugs come with their own side effects and certain cautions must be taken:

An alpha blocker may produce a "first-dose-effect" i.e. the blood pressure drops several points and the patient may feel dizzy and faint after rising from a lying or sitting position. For this reason it is recommended to take the first dose at bedtime.

The other side effects that this class of drug may produce include:

These drugs may interact with other drugs by either increasing or decreasing their effects, when taken together. If the doctor prescribes you an alpha blocker, be sure to inform your doctor if you are already on other drugs like calcium channel blockers, beta blockers or drugs used for erectile dysfunction (ED)

Few researches suggest that long-term use of alpha blockers may put you at risk of having a heart failure. However more research is required to make this finding authentic, but you can always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns related to your treatment regimen.

Who Should Not Be Prescribed Alpha Blockers?

Under certain circumstances, alpha blocker is not prescribed to women because it tends to cause stress incontinence and diminishes the control over bladder. All those women who are trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant or nursing their babies must take these drugs only upon doctor’s recommendation based on the risk-benefit ratio. They are also contraindicated in people with:

Other Medications for High Blood Pressure

As discussed earlier, alpha blockers aren’t the drugs of choice in case of hypertension and are only given when the other anti-hypertensive agents have failed to produce the desired effect. The drug classes that are given more preference over alpha blockers for treating hypertension include ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, diuretics and calcium channel blockers.

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