Many people with high blood pressure use drugs that worsen it

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In a new study from Harvard Medical School, researchers found about 1 in 5 people with high blood pressure may be unintentionally taking a drug for another condition that causes their blood pressure to climb even higher.

High blood pressure can increase the risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and vision problems by damaging blood vessels.

Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, restricting salt intake, and/or medication can help move blood pressure numbers back into the normal range.

In the study, the team analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2009 to 2018.

They looked at the use of the drugs known to raise blood pressure, including antidepressants, prescription-strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, hormonal medications, decongestants and weight-loss drugs among people with high blood pressure.

The team found that 18.5% of adults with high blood pressure reported taking a medication that increased their blood pressure, and those who did were more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure if they weren’t also on blood pressure-lowering medications.

And people who were on blood pressure drugs were more likely to need higher doses to control their blood pressure if they also took drugs for other conditions that raise blood pressure, the study showed.

The team says the risk of drugs raising blood pressure may be simply overlooked, particularly for patients using these additional medications for many years.

They hope the study helps change this, as there are effective therapeutic alternatives to medications that may raise blood pressure or strategies to minimize risk, such as having patients monitor their home blood pressure when starting a new medication that may raise blood pressure.

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about the key to diagnosing, treating high blood pressure and findings of more intense blood pressure control may lower irregular heartbeat risk.

For more information about blood pressure health, please see recent studies about wearing a blood pressure cuff may help prevent stroke and results showing that living in an apartment may harm your blood pressure.

The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine. One author of the study is Dr. Timothy Anderson.

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