9 high blood pressure drugs could lower depression risk

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In a new study, researchers found none of the 41 most common high blood pressure medications increased the risk of depression, while 9 medications appeared to lower it.

This is the first study to systematically examine whether blood pressure medications might influence the risk of developing depression.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Copenhagen and elsewhere.

Depression is common among patients with high blood pressure (also called hypertension), heart disease, and stroke.

The team analyzed real-life data on more than 3.7 million adults who took any of the 41 most commonly prescribed high blood pressure medications.

Thirty-seven of these medications are approved for use in the U.S. by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The four main categories of blood pressure-lowering medications were reviewed: angiotensin agents (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers, or ARBs); calcium antagonists; beta-blockers; and diuretics.

The analysis found: None of the 41 most common high blood pressure medications increased the risk of depression.

Nine medications – a few within each category – strongly lowered depression risk: 2 of 16 angiotensin agents, 3 of 10 calcium antagonists, and 4 of 15 beta-blockers.

The nine high blood pressure medications found to significantly lower depression risk are enalapril and ramipril (angiotensin agents); amlodipine, verapamil and verapamil combinations (calcium antagonists); and propranolol, atenolol, bisoprolol and carvedilol (beta-blockers).

All nine are approved for prescribing in the U.S.

The team says it was highly surprising that none of the 41 most-used anti-hypertensives was linked to an increased risk of depression and that some within each of the three classes of anti-hypertensives showed protective effects against depression.

It is possible that the mechanism involved in decreasing the risk of depression is the anti-inflammatory effect among these nine medications.

In the future, it will be important to compare the inflammatory properties of these nine hypertensives that lowered depression risk.

Low-grade inflammation is common in high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as in depression.

One author of the study is Lars Vedel Kessing, M.D., D.M.Sc.

The study is published in Hypertension.

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