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Prazosin Structure V.1.svg
Systematic (IUPAC) name
Clinical data
AHFS/ monograph
MedlinePlus a682245
Legal status
Routes of
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability ~60%
Protein binding 97%
Biological half-life 2–3 hours
CAS Number 19216-56-9 YesY
ATC code C02CA01
PubChem CID: 4893
DrugBank DB00457 YesY
ChemSpider 4724 YesY
KEGG D08411 YesY
Chemical data
Formula C19H21N5O4
Molecular mass 383.401 g/mol
 YesY (what is this?)  (verify)

Prazosin, trade names Minipress, Vasoflex, Lentopres and Hypovase, is a sympatholytic drug used to treat high blood pressure and anxiety, PTSD, and panic disorder. It is an alpha-adrenergic blocker that is specific for the alpha-1 receptors. These receptors are found on vascular smooth muscle, where they are responsible for the vasoconstrictive action of norepinephrine. They are also found throughout the central nervous system.[1] As of 2013, prazosin is off-patent in the US, and the FDA has approved at least one generic manufacturer.

In addition to its alpha-blocking activity, prazosin is an antagonist of the MT3 receptor (which is not present in humans), with selectivity for this receptor over the MT1 and MT2 receptors.[2]

Medical use[edit]

Prazosin is orally active and has a minimal effect on cardiac function due to its alpha-1 receptor selectivity. However, when prazosin is started, heart rate and contractility go up in order to maintain the pre-treatment blood pressures because the body has reached homeostasis at its abnormally high blood pressure. The blood pressure lowering effect becomes apparent when prazosin is taken for longer periods of time. The heart rate and contractility go back down over time and blood pressure decreases.

The antihypertensive characteristics of prazosin make it a second-line choice for the treatment of high blood pressure.[3]

Prazosin is also useful in treating urinary hesitancy associated with prostatic hyperplasia, blocking alpha-1 receptors, which control constriction of both the prostate and urethra. Although not a first line choice for either hypertension or prostatic hyperplasia, it is a choice for patients who present with both problems concomitantly.[3]

This medication has shown to be effective in treating severe nightmares in children and people with PTSD symptoms.[4] Veterans have also been treated successfully at Seattle's VA Puget Sound Health Care System (VAPSHCS) for sleep disturbance related to PTSD. Doses are lower for this purpose than for control of blood pressure.[4]

The drug is usually recommended for severe stings from Indian Red Scorpion Hottentotta tamulus in Indian Subcontinent.[5][6][7]

Adverse effects[edit]

Side effects of prazosin include orthostatic hypotension, syncope, and nasal congestion. The orthostatic hypotension and syncope are associated with the body's poor ability to control blood pressure without active alpha-adrenergic receptors. Patients on prazosin should be told not to stand up too quickly, since their poor baroreflex may cause them to faint if their blood pressure is not adequately maintained during standing. The nasal congestion is due to dilation of vessels in the nasal mucosa.

One phenomenon associated with prazosin is known as the "first dose response", in which the side effects of the drug, especially orthostatic hypotension and fainting, are especially pronounced in the first dose.

One very rare side effect of prazosin is priapism.[8]

Another possible side effect is dreaming while awake or hallucinations of wakefulness while falling asleep on the medication (see oneirophrenia).[citation needed]


Prazosin holds promise as a pharmacologic treatment for alcohol dependence after a 2009 pilot trial[9] was completed. A larger controlled Phase II "Clinical Trial of the Adrenergic Alpha-1 Antagonist Prazosin for Alcohol Dependence" is currently underway.[10]


  1. ^ Day, H. E.; Campeau, S.; Watson Jr, S. J.; Akil, H. (1997). "Distribution of alpha 1a-, alpha 1b- and alpha 1d-adrenergic receptor mRNA in the rat brain and spinal cord". Journal of chemical neuroanatomy 13 (2): 115–139. doi:10.1016/S0891-0618(97)00042-2. PMID 9285356. 
  2. ^ Yu CX, Zhu CB, Xu SF, Cao XD, Wu GC (March 2000). "Selective MT(2) melatonin receptor antagonist blocks melatonin-induced antinociception in rats". Neuroscience Letters 282 (3): 161–4. doi:10.1016/S0304-3940(00)00883-1. PMID 10717416. 
  3. ^ a b Shen, Howard (2008). Illustrated Pharmacology Memory Cards: PharMnemonics. Minireview. p. 13. ISBN 1-59541-101-1. 
  4. ^ a b "Drug Helps PTSD Nightmares" (PDF) (Press release). VA Research Currents. April 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  5. ^ Bawaskar, H.S. & P.H. Bawaskar (2008). "Scorpion sting: A study of clinical manifestations and treatment regimes" (PDF). Current Science 95 (9): 1337–1341. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Bawaskar, H.S. & P.H. Bawaskar (2007). "Utility of scorpion anti-venin vs. prazosin in the management of severe Mesobuthus tamulus (Indian red scorpion) envenoming at rural settings" (PDF). JAPI 55: 14–21. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  7. ^ Pandi, K.; Krishnamurthy, S.; Srinivasaraghavan, R.; Mahadevan, S. (18 February 2014). "Efficacy of scorpion antivenom plus prazosin versus prazosin alone for Mesobuthus tamulus scorpion sting envenomation in children: a randomised controlled trial". Archives of Disease in Childhood 99 (6): 575–580. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2013-305483. 
  8. ^ Bhalla AK, Hoffbrand BI, Phatak PS, Reuben SR (October 1979). "Prazosin and priapism". Br Med J 2 (6197): 1039. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.6197.1039. PMC 1596841. PMID 519276. 
  9. ^ Simpson, TL; Saxon, AJ; Meredith, CW; Malte, CA; McBride, B; Ferguson, LC; Gross, CA; Hart, KL; Raskind, M (2009). "A pilot trial of the alpha-1 adrenergic antagonist, prazosin, for alcohol dependence". Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research 33 (2): 255–63. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00807.x. PMID 18945226. 
  10. ^ Study of the Medication Prazosin for Alcohol Dependence