Doctors warn 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure taking medications that could make it worse

BOSTON — If you’ve got high blood pressure, doctors are issuing a new warning that may have you checking your medicine cabinet. One in five adults with high blood pressure are taking medications, such as ibuprofen, that could be making the problem worse, according to a new study.

Patients are being urged to routinely review the pills they take, especially those available over the counter, as one could be interfering with blood pressure-lowering efforts. It is estimated if half of Americans with hypertension (high blood pressure) were to discontinue taking a blood pressure-raising medication, up to 2.2 million patients could be able to achieve their goals without additional medicine.

Around 9 percent of patients with high blood pressure take antidepressants, while 8 percent take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs like ibuprofen. Another two percent take oral steroids to tread conditions like gout, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Other medications associated with blood pressure elevation were also reported, including antipsychotics, certain oral contraceptives and popular decongestants.

Nearly half of Americans with high blood pressure do not have it sufficiently controlled, researchers say.

Among the 27,000 participants in the study, 19 percent report using one or more blood pressure-raising medications, and 4 percent are using multiple. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of women with high blood pressure reported using a blood pressure-raising medication compared with 14% of men.

“These are medications that we commonly take — both over-the-counter and prescribed medications — that may have the unintended side effect of raising blood pressure and could have adverse effects on our heart health,” says Dr. John Vitarello, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in a statement. “We know that high blood pressure leads to cardiovascular disease, stroke and death and even small increases in blood pressure can have meaningful impacts on cardiovascular disease. Based on our findings, we need to be more aware of polypharmacy (the use of multiple medications by a single patient) in older adults who also have the highest burden of high blood pressure.”

Dr Vitarello says the findings suggest, in some cases, rather than treating high blood pressure with more medications, there may be opportunities to lower blood pressure by de-prescribing or substituting safer medications.

For example, there may be other classes of medications to treat the same condition that have less impact on blood pressure.

The research is part of the American College of Cardiology’s 70th Annual Scientific Session.

SWNS writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.