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If you have high blood pressure, these medicines may make it worse



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Many commonly used drugs can increase blood pressure. ozgurcankaya / Getty Images
  • Nearly 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure takes medication that can worsen their blood pressure levels.
  • Researchers say doctors need to pay more attention to what medications people are taking.
  • Even simple lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, can help improve people’s blood pressure levels drastically.

Nearly 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure take medications – such as steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antipsychotics or contraception – that can worsen their blood pressure levels.

According to the new findings presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 70th annual scientific session, physicians need to be more aware of what drugs people are taking and how they can affect their blood pressure.

“These are medications that we often take – both over-the-counter and prescribed medications – that can have the unintended side effect of raising blood pressure and can have detrimental effects on our heart health,” the study’s lead author, Dr. John Vitarello, an internal medicine resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said in a statement.

The earlier doctors identify people who are at risk for hypertension, the more opportunities people have to make lifestyle changes that can help manage hypertension.

The study evaluated the health data of 27,599 people who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2009 and 2018.

About half of the study participants, 49 percent, had hypertension.

The researchers identified medications, the trains associated with high blood pressure, such as NSAIDS, steroids, birth control pills and antipsychotics.

Nearly 19 percent used one or more medications that raised blood pressure, and 4 percent used several medications associated with higher blood pressure.

The results also show that stopping the use of one of these drugs can improve the blood pressure rate by 4.8 percent.

Many types of drugs can raise blood pressure.

“NSAIDs, steroids, birth control pills and antipsychotics are clearly linked to high blood pressure. This is because they can cause patients to withhold fluid a little, which will lead to an increase in blood pressure, ”said Dr. Joyce Oen-Hsiao, Director of Clinical Cardiology at Yale Medicine and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale School of Medicine.

NSAIDs that ibuprofen can raise blood pressure by affecting blood flow to the kidneys, explained Dr. Guy Mintz, Northwell Health’s Director of Cardiovascular Health and Lipidology at Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital.

Antidepressants can alter chemicals in the brain, which can contribute to hypertension, Mintz added.

Steroids can also increase blood pressure levels. “Steroids can cause retention of salt and water to increase blood pressure,” Mintz said.

About 45 percent of American adults have hypertension, which is defined as a blood pressure measurement equal to or greater than 130/80 mm Hg, according to Mintz.

Only 25 percent of American adults have their hypertension under control.

When left untreated, high blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

“High blood pressure can lead to stroke, kidney failure and heart failure and is a contributing cause of death for nearly half a million people in the United States each year,” Oen-Hsiao said.

The sooner doctors identify people at risk for hypertension, the greater the opportunities people have to deal with hypertension by making lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

“One simple thing patients can do to lower their blood pressure is to exercise. A 30-minute walk or bike ride a day helps keep blood pressure levels down, ”said Oen-Hsiao.

Looking ahead, physicians need to be aware of these potential effects and educate their patients about them.

“Providers who prescribe antidepressants, birth control pills (through estrogenic effects), antipsychotic drugs should be aware of their patient’s comorbid conditions and choose a medication with a minimal effect on blood pressure,” Mintz said.

Nearly 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure take medications – such as steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antipsychotics or birth control pills – that can worsen their blood pressure levels.

According to researchers, doctors need to be more aware of what medications people are taking and how they can affect their blood pressure.

Even simple lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, can help improve people’s blood pressure levels drastically.


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