April 18, 2014

Pain relievers and high blood pressure

¬†According to Prof. Ehud Grossman of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sheba Medical Center, many common over-the-counter and prescription medications are underlying causes of hypertension, which is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack, and aneurisms. The chemical components of the drugs can raise blood pressure or interfere with anti-hypertensive medications, and while many medications can cause this drug-induced hypertension, both patients and doctors remain dangerously uninformed.

When diagnosing the causes of hypertension, over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen are often overlooked. This is because patients often assume that because a medication can be obtained without a prescription, it’s relatively harmless. But that’s not always the case.

Many of the medications that are linked with a rise in blood pressure are quite widely used such as contraceptive pills, various anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory pills to control pain and bacterial antibiotics.

Though high blood pressure is a known side effect of many of these medications, doctors do not always account for them in their treatment plans, and they don’t inform patients of the potential risks associated with these medications. It’s ultimately the doctor’s responsibility to weigh treatment options and present the best course for their patient should issues of hypertension arise and, in this case, doctors may be advised to decrease the dosage of the drug or add an anti-hypertensive to the treatment regime.

Ehud Grossman, Franz H. Messerli. Drug-induced Hypertension: An Unappreciated Cause of Secondary Hypertension. The American Journal of Medicine, 2012; 125 (1): 14 DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.05.024

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