1 in 5 people with hypertension take drugs that increase blood pressure

New research examines what medication adults with hypertension are taking. David Smart/Stocksy
Most people with hypertension in the United States have not managed to lower their blood pressure to recommended levels with treatment.

There are many causes of high blood pressure, and some drugs can contribute to this.
Researchers have shown that many individuals with hypertension are taking medications that could raise their blood pressure.
There are often alternatives to these drugs that healthcare professionals should consider for those individuals.
Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, or hypertension. Yet only 1 in 4Trusted Source of them have managed to reduce their blood pressure to the recommended levels with treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

People with hypertension

It is important to keep blood pressure within the recommended levels of under 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Hypertension increases the risk of developing a heart attack and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the U.S.

Certain prescriptions for various conditions can likewise raise circulatory strain.

The causes of high blood pressure vary, with genetics, diet, exercise, lifestyle, and some medical conditions all playing a role. Certain medications for a number of different conditions can also raise blood pressure.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, a Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital, have examined existing survey data to determine how many people with hypertension are taking medication that may raise blood pressure.

Their results appear in a research letter in the journal JAMA Internal MedicineTrusted Source.

Letter co-author Dr. Timothy Anderson spoke with Medical News Today. however, other times, there may be other options:

“In some cases, these medications are appropriate, as they are treating an important issue without a better alternative.

Timothy Anderson talked with Medical News Today. notwithstanding, different occasions, there might be different choices.

Analyzing survey data

The researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination SurveyTrusted Source collected between 2009 and 2018. The dataset consisted of information about people over the age of 18 who were not pregnant.

In total, there were 27,599 adults, of whom 11.3% were Black, 14.8% were Hispanic, and 65.3% were non-Hispanic white.

Data for the survey were generated by home interviews. Among other details, information about prescription medications was obtained.

The researchers identified antihypertensive medications, which people take for hypertension, and medications that may cause elevated blood pressure.


The prevalence of hypertension and uncontrolled hypertension was 49.2% and 35.4%, respectively.

While the researchers expect to find that some of the individuals would be taking prescription medications that could raise blood pressure, they were surprise to find that there were so many.

Their analysis shows that nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States with hypertension were on medication that could raise their blood pressure. The authors found that a total of 15% of all adults were on these medications.

We also anticipate this is an understatement, as our study does not include over-the-counter [(OTC)] medications that were not prescribed, and many [OTC] medications, including anti-inflammatories and decongestants, may raise blood pressure.”

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Increasing risk

The researchers also observed an association between these medications and increased risk of uncontrolled hypertension in people who were not receiving antihypertensives, but not among those who were receiving them.

They also found that “The use of medications that may raise [blood pressure] was associated with greater use of antihypertensives among both adults with controlled hypertension […] and adults with uncontrolled hypertension.”

The most commonly prescribed medications that cause a rise in blood pressure are antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and estrogen.

MNT also spoke with Dr. Dave Dixon, an associate professor from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy, who is not involve in the study. He explained:MNT likewise talked with Dr.

This study further highlights the important role of pharmacists in helping to minimize the use of medications that may worsen hypertension. For example not all antidepressants affect blood pressure the same. so pharmacists can recommend alternatives to the prescriber that have little to no effect on blood pressure to avoid unnecessary worsening of blood pressure control.

Reducing or eliminating the use of some of the prescribed medications could cause different challenges, and Dr. Dixon pointed out it was unclear in the paper for how long the individuals were taking these medications.

He advised, “Regardless, patients with hypertension should monitor their blood pressure closely at home with a validated home blood pressure monitor and report changes to their [doctor].”

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