A recent study from the University of Leeds 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.
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.
This study of more than 71 000 patients from 389 general practices in England looked at the link between oral glucocorticoid doses and high blood pressure in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases.
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 healthcare providers closely monitor blood pressure in patients who routinely take oral steroids.
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The study was conducted by Dr. Mar Pujades-Rodriguez et al and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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