Guanfacine is a standalone or supplemental medication for the treatment of high blood pressure. It is part of the class of medicines labeled as centrally-acting alpha 2A-adrenergic receptor agonists. Its main application is the mitigation of symptoms and damage caused by high blood pressure, but guanfacine is also effective in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD.
How Does Guanfacine Work?
Guanfacine is an agonist. Agonists produce a biological response by binding to and activating receptors in the brain. It usually comes in standard or extended release tablets (brand name Intuniv) that treat high blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels that carry blood to vital organs and slowing the heart rate, which allows blood to flow without additional pressure from the presence of excess blood.
Intuniv Drug Logo
How Does Guanfacine Treat Hypertension?
The alpha 2A-adrenergic receptor agonists in guanfacine encourage the brain to slow down and relax the circulatory system that transports, cleans, and flushes blood throughout your body. Your circulation can be negatively affected by hypertension. Hypertension, more commonly called high blood pressure, is a circulatory condition which causes the force of blood circulation to place stress on the walls of your arteries.
Hypertension generally develops either as a result of narrow arteries, excessive blood flow from the heart, or a weakening circulatory system due to age. Nearly everyone experiences high blood pressure eventually. Taking guanfacine once a day, preferably at bedtime or at least at the same time every day, helps relieve the pressure on your artery walls by pushing less blood through your system at one time and creating larger passageways for blood to move.
How Does Guanfacine Treat ADHD?
The extended release tablets that contain guanfacine are effective at stimulating a postsynaptic response in the alpha 2A receptors in the brain’s prefrontal cortex (PFC). This reaction strengthens the ability of the PFC to control impulses, attention, planning, and processing. While guanfacine’s ability to regulate ADHD symptoms is highly effective, it is still considered secondary to psychostimulants in the medical community.
ADHD patients who try psychostimulants to treat their disorder have a 30-50% rate of discontinuation due to discomfort from side effects or discontent with the effectiveness of the treatment. Guanfacine offers an alternative treatment method that causes a reaction more closely associated with repair than stimulation.
The efficacy of guanfacine in ADHD patients is still the subject of study, but current trials suggest a strong relationship between enhanced PFC function and individual control over choices and actions in ADHD patients.
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