Hypertension Patients Often Given Medications Which Raise Their Blood Pressure Even Higher: Study

Many hypertension patients are unaware some of their other medications, including OTC pain pills, may increase their blood pressure even further

According to the findings of a new study, one-in-five individuals with hypertension receive prescription medications which may further increase their blood pressure to dangerous levels, leading to serious side effects.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common condition where the long-term force of blood against the artery walls puts an individual at risk for heart disease, heart attack stroke or other problems. Treatments often start with improving diet, losing weight, exercising, limiting alcohol and other life-style changes, and more serious cases require drugs to treat high blood pressure.

In a report published last month in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston warn that nearly 20% of adults already diagnosed with hypertension are still prescribed other drugs that are known to raise blood pressure, such as steroids, pain killers and hormones, further increasing their health risks.

Researchers reviewed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2009 and 2018, evaluating the use of drugs known to raise blood pressure, including antidepressants, prescription-strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, hormonal medications, decongestants, and weight-loss pills among patients already diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Overall, 18.5% of adults with high blood pressure reported taking a medication that increased their blood pressure. Additionally, those hypertension patients who took a medication which raised their blood pressure were more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure because they were often not on blood pressure-lowering medications.

Those who were taking hypertension drugs were more likely to require higher doses to control their high blood pressure if they also took drugs for other conditions which also raised their blood pressure, the researchers found.

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Many patients are unaware that some of the other medications they take, including over-the-counter (OTC) medications, may increase their blood pressure. Additionally, many doctors who prescribe other drugs to patients with hypertension do not warn them the new drugs may also increase their risk of high blood pressure.

Hypertension can damage blood vessels and cause serious side effects, especially if left untreated or under-treated, potentially resulting in life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and vision problems.

Lifestyle changes like weight loss, restricting salt intake and taking hypertension medications to decrease blood pressure may be counteracted among many users by prescription of other drugs known to increase blood pressure. Therefore, it is important for consumers to be aware of how all types of drugs, including OTC medications, will affect blood pressure. For example, Tylenol does not increase blood pressure, but NSAIDs like Advil and Aleve will.

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