Medications that Can Raise Blood Pressure: We Name 6

It is no secret that all drugs can generate side effects after prolonged use. What are the drug groups that can increase blood pressure?
Medications that Can Raise Blood Pressure: We Name 6

Last update: 26 February, 2023

Etiologically, there are two types of hypertension: idiopathic and secondary. The first affects 90% of patients with no apparent cause. The second corresponds to 10% of cases, and originates from one or more triggering factors. Among the various factors, there are medications that can raise blood pressure, and we’ll take a look at six of them today.

Regardless of whether they were prescribed by the doctor, some medicines have increased blood pressure among their side effects. Knowing which medicines is very important, especially for people who are considered to be at risk. In this article, we’ll describe the drugs that are known to have this effect.

Medicines that can raise blood pressure

There are many ways drugs can increase blood pressure. Although it depends on the group they belong to, the evidence indicates that fluid retention, the changes they produce in the sympathetic system, and vasoconstriction are some of the ways they lead to hypertension.

It is also known that most of these increases in blood pressure are transient and generally don’t represent a danger to the patient’s life. However, when combined with other triggers or an unhealthy lifestyle, they can cause kidney problems, encephalopathies, and cardiovascular problems.

The problem is that many of these drugs are available over the counter. Millions of people use them every year to relieve colds and pains, or to counteract allergy symptoms. In addition, when following antihypertensive treatment, they can hinder the vasodilatory effects. Let’s see the most common categories:

1. Painkillers

Analgesics are among the drugs that can increase blood pressure
Analgesics are among the most widely used drugs around the world, but they are not free from side effects.

Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, piroxicam, ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and indomethacin are commonly used to relieve the symptoms of headaches, body aches, inflammation and fever. Studies and research have associated their regular consumption with an increase in blood pressure, regardless of whether the patient falls into a risk category.

The development of this side effect can also occur in people who don’t suffer from hypertension. Pain relievers are available over the counter and are usually used without medical supervision. The mechanism of action is unknown, although the hypothesis focuses on sodium retention.

2. Antidepressants

Antidepressants are a group of drugs that work by altering the body’s response to certain chemicals. For example, serotonin and dopamine. Although the debate is still open, their intake has been associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension.

The possible relationship between this class of drugs and pregnancy disorders was also investigated. An article published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth in 2019 indicates that pregnant women have up to three times the risk of developing preeclampsia and gestational hypertension if they use antidepressants.

These include tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, venlafaxine and fluoxetine. Since their treatment is often prolonged, patients must constantly monitor their blood pressure.

3. Oral contraceptives

Taking oral contraceptives is proven to increase the chances of developing heart disease. If you suffer from hypertension and are following contraceptive treatment, you will have to take into account that an interaction between drugs is possible, according to some studies.

The relationship between contraceptives and hypertension is unclear, but the hormonal changes they produce are thought to trigger a range of physiological disturbances.

The higher the hormone dosage, the greater the complications. However, some research indicates that cardiovascular effects can be activated with as little as 30 micrograms of estrogen.

4. Immunosuppressants

These are used by patients who have undergone an organ transplant to prevent rejection. They are also prescribed in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, for example, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

These drugs are thought to affect kidney function by reducing the excretion of water, potassium and sodium, as evidenced by research. In this case, the offending drugs are tacrolimus and cyclosporine. The latter can generate a blood pressure imbalance in up to 50% of cases, according to studies.

5. Herbal supplements

Among the drugs that increase blood pressure, those derived from natural herbs stand out.
Herbs aren’t free from adverse effects, especially when combined with other drugs.

Many people resort to natural remedies as an alternative to drugs, believing they are safer. However, the fact that a supplement is made from natural ingredients doesn’t prevent it from causing side effects. For example, research suggests that the following supplements can cause hypertension:

  • Ginseng
  • Bitter orange
  • Guarana
  • Arnica
  • Hypericum
  • Licorice
  • Mint essential oil
  • Ephedra
  • Dong Quai

If you start a treatment based on one of these supplements, you should tell your doctor, especially if you are already on drug therapy. Interaction with some medications can cause hypertension. Herbs should be consumed with caution and never replaced with the therapy recommended by the doctor.

6. Cold medications

Most of the medications indicated for the treatment of the common cold are available over the counter. Millions of people resort to self-medication every year, sometimes for longer periods of time than recommended.

Overuse of nasal decongestants has been shown to cause hypertensive crisis and irreversible kidney damage. The use of phenylephrine-containing drugs has also been linked to hypertension in children. Other decongestants such as pseudoephedrine have been identified by some research as causing an increase in blood pressure.

The side effects of all these groups of drugs vary according to the dosage, weight, and age of the patient and the time of exposure. They can also get worse if you fall into one of the high blood pressure risk groups. These are as follows:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being sedentary
  • Eating an unhealthy diet with high consumption of processed foods and sodium
  • A family history of hypertension
  • Suffering from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver or kidney disease
  • Being over 40 years old
  • Frequent episodes of stress or anxiety

The importance of not self-medicating

If you fall into one or more of these categories and use these drugs frequently, you may experience blood pressure imbalances. Medications that can raise blood pressure should be taken, if possible, under a doctor’s prescription. Self-medication is not recommended, especially when suffering from other diseases.

In many cases, hypertension causes no symptoms, which can prevent those who use these drugs uncontrollably from noticing vascular changes. In any case, a monthly blood pressure check is recommended for preventive purposes. If, on the other hand, you feel a pressure imbalance, see your doctor to consider a replacement of the affected drug.

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