Minoxidil: an underused vasodilator for resistant or severe hypertension

J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2004 May;6(5):283-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-6175.2004.03585.x.


Minoxidil is a direct vasodilator introduced in the early 1970s for the treatment of hypertension. It is capable of reducing blood pressure in most persons with resistant hypertension where therapy has failed with multidrug regimens. Minoxidil's effect can be limited because of an increase in pulse rate and/or sodium (and water) retention. The latter may prove quite debilitating in some patients. Thus, minoxidil is generally administered with both a diuretic and an agent that can keep pulse rate in check, such as a beta blocker or a combined alpha-beta blocker. The prominent tachycardia with minoxidil can aggravate myocardial ischemia and, if long-standing, leads to left ventricular hypertrophy. Minoxidil has a particularly annoying side effect of hypertrichosis that may limit its use, particularly among women. Minoxidil use is infrequently associated with the idiosyncratic onset of a pericardial effusion. If a patient's hypertension is severe enough to warrant minoxidil therapy, a hypertension specialist should probably become involved in the patient's care. The use of this medication should be limited in view of the availability of effective agents with fewer side effects. There is, however, a place for minoxidil in the treatment of resistant hypertension especially in patients with advanced renal disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antihypertensive Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Minoxidil / administration & dosage
  • Minoxidil / adverse effects
  • Minoxidil / pharmacology*
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use*
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Minoxidil