Vasodilators are medications that cause dilation of the blood vessels. These medications are primarily used in the control of high blood pressure; however, in the case of minoxidil, what started out as a side effect (increased/excessive hair growth) has now been turned into the main marketing factor.


Brand/Generic Drug Names

Hyperstat/diazoxide, Apresoline/hydralazine, Minodyl/minoxidil, Nipride/nitroprusside
Common uses
hypertension, chronic refractory congestive heart failure
direct vasodilating effect on vascular smooth muscle, reducing blood pressure
Class contraindications
allergy, others vary by drug
Class precautions
renal disease, others vary by drug
Increased antihypertensive effect: antihypertensives
Adverse Reactions
congestive heart failure,EKG changes, diarrhea, headache, nausea, orthostatic hypotension, palpitations, pleural or cardiac effusions, itching, rash, tachycardia, vomiting
Additional Information
Assess blood, renal studies
Assess for edema, signs of congestive heart failure, renal symptoms
Evaluate therapeutic response: decreased blood pressure, edema, moist rales
Date of most recent Update
September 11, 2002
Further information is available in the writeup for the specific name(s) of this medication class

Vas`o*di*lat"or (?), a.[L. vas a vessel + dilator.] Physiol.

Causing dilation or relaxation of the blood vessels; as, the vasodilator nerves, stimulation of which causes dilation of the blood vessels to which they go. These nerves are also called vaso-inhibitory, and vasohypotonic nerves, since their stimulation causes relaxation and rest.


© Webster 1913.

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