One of the most common medications used among ambulatory care practitioners is Diazepam. This drug can be used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, as well as to prevent seizures. Whether you’re an emergency room physician or an internist with a special interest in epilepsy, knowing how Diazepam affects blood pressure will help you make more informed decisions about this medication.
Diazepam Mechanism of Action
Diazepam is classified as a benzodiazepine medication, meaning that it binds with GABA receptors. These receptors are found in various parts of the brain and body and cause patient sedation and relaxation. They are also found in the blood vessels and skeletal muscles. As Diazepam binds with these GABA receptors in the vessels and muscles, it causes a significant drop in blood pressure.
As a result of its cardiovascular effects, Diazepam is contraindicated for patients with pulmonary edema, excessive congestion of the lungs, or heart failure. Many physicians choose to use other medications over Diazepam for treating patients with these conditions because it can further contribute to circulatory problems. In addition, it’s important to be aware of Diazepam’s effect on blood pressure when dealing with geriatric patients.
Diazepam‘s Effect on Blood Pressure
Diazepam is contraindicated for long-term use in patients with severe congestive heart failure, in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s metabolic needs. In addition, it won’t be safe in patients with mitral valve prolapse, which can cause blood to back up into the left ventricle and reduce blood pressure. Although Diazepam is used to treat these conditions, it may not be advisable to use it regularly.
In some cases, the dosage of the medication will be too high. This may cause hypertension (high blood pressure), especially if you take it for anxiety or panic disorders. The symptoms of hypertension are a pounding heart, irritability, and headaches. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately. In addition, Diazepam is also contraindicated for patients with obstructive pulmonary disease because it can cause respiratory depression.
How to Decrease the Impact on Blood Pressure
Suppose you’re taking Diazepam for anxiety or other conditions. In that case, you may tolerate a significant drop in blood pressure as long as it doesn’t lead to fainting spells or dizziness. In addition, if you have some of these conditions, you may be able to adjust the amount of medication your physician prescribes. To get started, your physician will want to know all the medications you’re currently taking and any allergies or other adverse reactions.
Finally, if you plan on taking Diazepam for a long period, make sure that the dosage is adjusted accordingly. Too high may decrease blood pressure and make it more difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. If the dose is too low, it will not be effective in treating anxiety disorders and may leave you feeling anxious for no reason. If you’re taking this medication for epilepsy, consult with your doctor about the dosage and follow-up care to ensure that the side effects don’t get in the way of your treatment.
Because Diazepam can drop blood pressure substantially, you must understand how this medication affects cardiovascular function and identify other potential side effects before taking it. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be at a higher risk for problems when taking this drug if they already have a relatively low blood pressure level. In addition, elderly patients may have an even more difficult time dealing with a drop in blood pressure caused by Diazepam.
Depending on the patient’s condition and other medications that he or she is taking, a physician may elect to use Diazepam despite these risks. As with any medication, it’s important to discuss the potential side effects of Diazepam before you start taking it. If you have questions about Diazepam or any other medications you’re taking, your physicians can answer them!
Although it is a very effective medication, Diazepam should not be used to treat chronic congestive heart failure, mitral valve prolapses, or other detrimental conditions because it can further aggravate circulatory problems. If you have asthma, COPD, or pulmonary edema, consult your physician before taking Diazepam.
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