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Side Effects of
Alpha Blockers


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Description: Alpha blockers are used to treat a number of conditions including hypertension, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and complex regional pain syndrome. They work by keeping the hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline) from tightening the muscles in the walls of smaller arteries and veins, which causes the vessels to remain open and relaxed. This improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure, according to Mayo Clinic research (June 2016).

Serious Side Effects of Alpha Blockers

While most patients will handle the medication appropriately, some patients can experience severe side effects including:

  • Delusions
  • Heart attacks
  • Anemia
  • Influenza syndrome
  • These symptoms often lead to non-compliance or termination of pharmacotherapy, according to the International Neurourology Journal “Long-term Combination Therapy With α-Blockers and 5α-Reductase Inhibitors in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Patient Adherence and Causes of Withdrawal From Medication” (Dec 2016).

    Common Side Effects of Alpha Blockers

    Alpha blockers have varying side effects profile dependent on which chemicals in the body they affect. Common side effects include:

  • Dizziness (more than 3%)
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Peripheral edema (swelling of the ankles and feet)
  • Palpitations (extra heart beats)
  • Chest pain
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Paresthesia (loss of sensation)
  • Dizziness (up to 17% of patients)
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Somnolence (sleepiness)
  • Dyspnea (cough)
  • Diarrhea (over 1%)
  • (Physicians’ Desk Reference, 70th Ed., 2016)

    Understand Your Risks with the Rxight® Genetic Test

    Adverse medication reactions are one of the main reasons behind hospitalizations and non-compliance. In order to decrease the issues stemming from medication use, Rxight® DNA testing (genetic examination on how you will react to medications) is specifically designed to help patients and their prescribers to identify and help avoid potentially serious adverse reactions – instead of relying on the traditional “trial and error” approach that is still so often used in medicine today.

    How Does Pharmacogenetic Testing Work?

    Rxight® is a CLIA-certified pharmacogenetic testing service which looks at individual gene variants that affect how alpha blockers and hundreds of other drugs work. The testing is done by taking a DNA sample from a simple cheek swab. After the test results come in, each patient receives a Personalized Medication Review interpreted by a pharmacist trained in pharmacogenetics.

    Contributors to this Article:
    Michael Sapko, MD, Phd and Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry

    Alpha Blockers Tested Include:

    Read more about Rxight® Genetic Testing For Medication Effectiveness