Vasodilators: minoxidil and drugs used in peripheral vascular and cerebral disorders.


Vasodilator drugs relax vascular smooth muscle, either directly or indirectly through adrenergic neurones. Different vasodilators may act principally on arteries, principally on veins, or on both arteries and veins. Dilatation of arterioles reduces peripheral vascular resistance and hence lowers arterial blood pressure. Dilatation of veins increases peripheral venous pooling of blood, reducing venous return to the heart and tending to lower cardiac output and arterial blood pressure. Reflex sympathetic tachycardia tends to restore cardiac output and blood pressure. There is sound rationale and proof of efficacy for using vasodilators in three disorders-hypertension, angina, and heart failure. In hypertension blood pressure is lowered by reducing peripheral vascular resistance. In angina the reductions in venous return (reducing preload) and arterial blood pressure (reducing afterload) reduce the workload of the left ventricular myocardium and hence reduce its requirement for oxygen. In heart failure reduction of the workload of the ventricles improves their performance. Of the newer vasodilators, prazosin, calcium antagonists, and captopril are covered in separate articles in this series. Minoxidil, reviewed here, is a recently introduced arterial vasodilator for treating severe hypertension. Although the efficacy of vasodilators in peripheral and cerebral vascular disease has not been proved, new drugs continue to be marketed and these are considered later in this article.

2 Figures and Tables


Citations per Year

310 Citations

Semantic Scholar estimates that this publication has 310 citations based on the available data.

See our FAQ for additional information.

Cite this paper

@article{Lowe1983VasodilatorsMA, title={Vasodilators: minoxidil and drugs used in peripheral vascular and cerebral disorders.}, author={Gordon D.O Lowe}, journal={British medical journal}, year={1983}, volume={286 6373}, pages={1262-4} }