Can Common Pain Relievers Cause Hypertension?
March 21, 2012

Can Common Pain Relievers Cause Hypertension?

According to a Tel Aviv professor of medicine, common over-the-counter medications such as painkillers may be a hidden cause of high blood pressure and hypertension. These drugs may even conflict with current prescriptions, rendering them useless.

While it may be common knowledge by now that kidney failure and endocrine tumors cause high blood pressure, the effects of common pain medications and over-the-counter drugs remain dangerously unknown, according to new research.

Professor Ehud Grossman of Tel Aviv University´s Sackler Faculty of Medicine has recently conducted research on these common drugs and found them to be an underlying cause of hypertension.

This research was published in the American Journal of Medicine.

Hypertension is a major risk factor for strokes, heart attacks, and brain aneurisms. Even patients on anti-hypertensive medications are at risk, as the chemical makeup of these common drugs can raise blood pressure, interfering with other medications. Simple drug interference isn´t the most dangerous part of this issue, according to Prof. Grossman. What is most troubling is how dangerously unaware doctors and patients are to the kind of reactions these drugs can have.

Prof. Grossman suggests that one reason these over-the-counter medicines are not suspected to have dire effects is the relative ease with which they can be obtained.

“In diagnosing the causes of hypertension, over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen are often overlooked,” Prof. Grossman said in the published paper. The new research studies all kinds of common medications related to high blood pressure. Examples include painkillers, birth control, anti-depressants, and antibiotics.

These common medications have been widely shown to increase blood pressure in patients taking the drugs. However, the new research conducted by Prof. Grossman found that, because these drugs are so common, many doctors fail to account for them in their prescribed medical treatments. Worse still, these doctors often failed to inform the patient about the effects of these medications and their potential interaction with the prescribed drugs. In the end, it´s the doctor´s responsibility to inform the patient as to what kind of reactions could arise.

According to Prof. Grossman, doctors would be advised to either decrease the amount of prescribed medication when common drugs are being used, or prescribe an anti-hypertensive medication for patients currently taking these common medications. “Many physicians don´t account for this, and some don´t even know about it. It´s their responsibility to be informed and make sure that their patients are aware that this is a possibility,” says Prof. Grossman.

While treatment can usually be altered to avoid the dangers of hypertension, this isn´t always the case. For example, there are new anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs that increase blood pressure to block the formation of new blood vessels. In doing so, anti-vascular drugs prevent new blood vessels and arteries from forming on solid tumors. Because these drugs perform so efficiently, doctors may not want to prescribe a third anti-hypertensive medication. In the end, patients should be monitored closely in their specific treatment.

Patients should also be aware of hypertension and the types of drugs that may bring about this danger. “Once a patient has won a longer life with the use of these drugs, you don´t want to expose them to problems associated with blood pressure, such as stroke,” says Prof. Grossman. By simply being aware of the drugs taken, patients and doctors can adjust regimens to prevent hypertension and its effects.