Common anti-inflammation drug may increase high blood pressure risk

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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects one in five adults around the world and can have significant negative health effects.

Previous studies have reported a dose-related response between oral steroids and hypertension, although evidence has been inconclusive.

In a recent study at the University of Leeds, researchers found that cumulative doses of oral steroids in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases are linked to increased blood pressure for those who take them regularly.

The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The lead author is Dr. Mar Pujades-Rodriguez, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences.

The team tested more than 71 000 patients with chronic inflammatory diseases to look at the link between oral glucocorticoid doses and high blood pressure.

The most common underlying diseases included inflammatory bowel disease (35%) and rheumatoid arthritis (28%).

The researchers found that there were 24 896 (35%) new cases of high blood pressure. When patients reached cumulative doses, rates of high blood pressure increased accordingly in a dose-response pattern.

The team says the cumulative effect of oral steroid doses on hypertension is substantial, and given that these are commonly prescribed medications, the related health burden could be high.

They recommend that health care providers closely monitor blood pressure in patients who routinely take oral steroids.

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