Know About Alpha-blockers

Know About Alpha-blockers
Published : Feb 04, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

What are Alpha-blockers?

Alpha-blockers are medications mainly used to treat high blood pressure. These drugs also treat certain conditions affecting the circulatory system and Prostate.

Alpha-blockers work by slowing down certain types of chemical communication between cells. These drugs generally prevent a hormone called norepinephrine from tightening the muscle cells of the arteries and veins.

As a result, the blood vessels get relaxed and widen, ensuring improved blood flow. Also, alpha-blockers medications relax other muscles throughout the body. In response, they help to improve urine flow in older men with prostate problems. 

Along with Hypertension, Alpha-blockers are also used to treat medical conditions like-

  • Benign prostatic hypertrophy (Enlarged Prostate) 
  • Peripheral artery disease(poor blood circulation, usually in the legs)
  • Pheochromocytoma(a type of hormone-secreting tumor problem)

Examples of alpha-blockers

Alpha-blockers are of different types, including short-acting or long-acting. Short-acting alpha-blocker medications work quickly, but their effects only last a few hours. But during long-acting alpha-blockers, the effects of these drugs last longer than short-acting ones.

Generally, Which Alpha-blocker you should take depends on the medical condition being treated. And a medical professional will determine which type of alpha-blocker would be best for you.

Alpha-blockers are also known by other names, such as alpha-adrenergic blocking agents, adrenergic blocking agents, alpha-blocking agents, and alpha-adrenergic antagonists. 

Some example of alpha-blockers prescribed to treat high blood pressure includes-

  • Prazosin(Minipress)
  • Doxazosin(Cardura)
  • Terazosin

Alpha-blockers that help to ease and prevent symptoms of enlarged Prostate are-

  • Doxazosin(Cardura)
  • Terazosin(Hytrin)
  • Alfuzosin(Uroxatral)
  • Silodosin(Rapaflo)
  • Tamsulosin(Flomax)

When Alpha-blockers are used

Alpha-blockers typically aren't the first treatment option available for hypertension(high blood pressure). Instead, the doctor may suggest alpha-blockers with other drugs, such as diuretics. They do it when the high blood pressure is difficult to control. 

In addition, the doctor may prescribe alpha-blockers to relieve, treat, and prevents the symptoms of an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).

Side effects of Alpha-blockers

When you start using an alpha blocker, there can be chances that you might develop symptoms like low blood pressure and dizziness. These symptoms can make you faint, especially when you rise from a sitting or lying position. So, usually, doctors recommend you take your first dose often at bedtime. While taking an alpha blocker, you may suspect side effects such as-

  • Headache
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • low blood pressure
  • Chest pain

Before taking an alpha blocker, inform your doctor about all your other medications. You must discuss the use of drugs with a doctor: beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and Ed drugs. Alpha-blockers can increase or decrease the effects of other drugs during an interaction and exert these side effects.

The use of Alpha-blockers may improve total cholesterol. However, some studies it has also found that long-term use of some alpha-blockers can lead to the risk of heart failure. 

Are alpha blockers safe?

Alpha-blockers are generally safe and taken only under a doctor's prescription. But there are some restrictions to these drugs that one should follow if they are under these circumstances. 

Do not use alpha-blockers:

  • If hypersensitive or allergic to these medications
  • Are taking strong CYP 3A4 inhibitors
  • If you have a hepatic impairment and taking drugs like Silodosin or alfuzosin

Use alpha-blockers with caution:

  • In hypotension
  • In cataract surgery as there can be a risk for intra-operative floppy iris syndrome

Also, people using other drugs that lower blood pressure or ED Medicines should avoid Alpha-blockers. Taking these drugs together can have additive hypotensive effects that can be fatal. A person should be stable on an alpha blocker before suggesting lower doses of PDE5 inhibitors. And, without any medical professional advice, one should not take this medication.

Who can take alpha-blockers?


Alpha-blockers are mostly prescribed for the male population, especially for those who are suffering from BPH.


As off-label use in women, alpha-blockers can help aid the release of kidney stones. These drugs can also ease the difficulty of passing urine by relaxing the smooth muscles in the bladder. 

Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding

Most medications in the group of alpha-blockers need caution while using them during pregnancy. There is inadequate human data about these drugs and whether they are safe under these circumstances. So better if you discuss all the potential risks and benefits of an alpha blocker under these situations. 

But the only exception in this class of drugs is phenoxybenzamine, whose benefits outweigh the risks. Moreover, some alpha-blockers like Alfuzosin and silodosin are only approved for use in males by FDA. Breastfeeding women are generally suggested for other alternatives due to limited human data. 


Alpha-blockers may help treat various conditions in pediatric patients. Doctors may suggest drugs like Prazosin for managing PTSD-associated nightmares and treating pheochromocytoma. Also, drugs like Tamsulosin can help pass kidney stones in pediatric patients. Use of alpha-blockers should be only done when advised by a medical professional. 


Doctors may suggest alpha-blockers in the geriatric population. However, this group of drugs can have multiple risk factors that can lead to orthostatic hypotension. It may appear to be a common adverse effect of alpha-blockers and can be a cause of concern. 

Also, people may experience urinary incontinence, so they need to get up multiple times for urination at night. 

Older adults may need caution while using alpha-blockers, and they must be safely taken. Also, they are likely to use other medications for blood pressure, such as diuretics, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and angiotensin. Some adults are also suggested for PDE5 inhibitors like Sildenafil, Tadalafil if they have Erectile dysfunction. These drugs may have addictive effects on the body when you use them with alpha-blockers, as their result can be unsafe. So be aware of possible drug interactions and their consequences.