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Nineteen percent of adults with high blood pressure take drugs that worsen the condition

Among adults with high blood pressure, 19 percent of them are taking one or more medications that may be elevating their blood pressure, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

Linda Searing,, May 17, 2021

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs known to have this unintended side effect include antidepressants, pain relievers (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and naproxen), some oral contraceptives, decongestants, antipsychotics and oral steroids taken to treat such conditions as gout, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

About 108 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure (hypertension), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means they have a blood pressure reading at or above 130/80 mm Hg, putting them at increased risk for heart attack or stroke.

Just 24 percent have their hypertension under control, the CDC says. Lifestyle changes such as eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol consumption are usually the first things suggested to get blood pressure under control. If lifestyle changes are not enough, doctors generally prescribe medication, called antihypertensives, and may add more medication if the appropriate blood pressure goal is not reached.

But the authors of the research said that this may lead to people taking more antihypertensive medication than would be needed if their other medications were adjusted. They said they hope these new findings will make patients and doctors more aware of the possible effect on blood pressure that other medications can have. They estimated that if half of U.S. adults with hypertension discontinued one blood pressure-raising medication, up to 2.2 million patients might achieve their blood pressure goals. Their research was based on analysis of nearly a decade of data on 27,599 adults.

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