Clinical Uses

Hydralazine is generally reserved for moderately hypertensive ambulatory patients whose blood pressure is not well controlled either by diuretics or by drugs that interfere with the sympathetic nervous system. It is almost always administered in combination with a diuretic (to prevent Na+ retention) and a p-blocker, such as propranolol (to attenuate the effects of reflex cardiac stimulation and hyperreninemia). The triple combination of a diuretic, p-blocker, and hydralazine constitutes a unique hemodynamic approach to the treatment of hypertension, since three of the chief determinants of blood pressure are affected: cardiac output (p-blocker), plasma volume (diuretic), and peripheral vascular resistance (hydralazine).

Although hydralazine is available for intravenous administration and has been used in the past for hypertensive emergencies, it is not generally employed for this purpose. The onset of action after intravenous injection is relatively slow, and its actions are somewhat unpredictable in comparison with those of several other vasodilators.

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