A Brief Drug Classification Overview [with eBook Download]

Confident nurse talks on a smart phone while reading a patient's prescription medication.

Memorizing important nursing pharmacology, including drug classifications, is going to help you beyond exams. And having resources at hand – like a pharmacology drug classification chart – will make drug memorization much easier. 

Drug classifications are groups of similar-acting drugs that treat related ailments. Getting a wrong drug classification answer on a Pharmacology exam is never good – but giving a patient the wrong drug is way worse.

To help with drug memorization, you can download our Drug Classifications eBook below. But first, take a look at our pharmacology cheat sheet.

Our Quick Nursing Pharmacology Cheat Sheet

Pharmacology cheat sheets can help with exams and coursework during nursing school and real-life nursing after graduation. 

Here’s our quick cheat sheet for you that covers common drug classifications, along with reasons and actions:

Drug ClassificationReason(s)Action(s)
Ace InhibitorsHypertensionSuppressing the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and preventing the activity of ACE, which converts angiotensin 1 to angiotensin 2 (vasoconstrictor). Inhibiting the conversion causes Na+ and H2O not to be retained; as a result, sodium and BP decreases.
Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB)HypertensionBlocking the binding of angiotensin two at various sites on smooth muscle. Blocking the vasoconstriction effects of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, as a result, causes a decrease in blood pressure.
Beta-BlockersHypertension, Cardiac arrhythmia, Heart failure, Angina, Glaucoma, Prevention of Myocardial infarction (MI).Blocking beta receptors in the heart to decrease cardiac workload to decrease HR and dilate blood vessels. Providing membrane stabilizing effects.
Calcium Channel BlockersHypertension, Angina pectoris, Vasospastic (Prinzmetal’s) angina.Inhibiting calcium’s movement across the cell membrane of cardiac and arterial muscles – resulting in less calcium available for nerve impulse transmission and relaxing blood vessels to increase 02 supply to decrease cardiac workload.
CephalosporinsRespiratory infections, Otitis media (ear infection), Bone/joint infections, Genitourinary tract, and other bacterial infections.With their β-lactam ring, they target the bacterial cell wall, making it defective and unstable. This action is similar to the action of penicillin. Cephalosporins are usually bactericidal.
Thiazides (Diuretics)Hypertension, Used with antihypertensives, reducing edema, Glaucoma, seizures, and Renal disease.Inhibiting reabsorption in the ascending portion of the loop of Henle and early distal tubule. Excrete sodium, chloride, and H2O.

Download our eBook, “Drug Classifications” to learn more:

Studying pharmacology for the NCLEX exam? Check out our NCLEX Cram Sheet here.

Retain Even More Pharmacology with Us

After graduation, you’ll need to understand pharmacology and drug classifications to accurately determine patient treatment options.

But while in nursing school, you’ll remember crucial drugs better if you have resources close at hand.

SimpleNursing has everything you need to learn, memorize, and ace pharmacology subjects. So equip yourself with the tools you need to ace pharmacology classes and exams.

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