Given that about half of American adults have high blood pressure, it’s no surprise that there are a number of different medications designed to treat it. However, only a fraction of people taking one of these drugs are successfully managing their hypertension. Why? According to new research, part of the problem may be that they’re taking other medications, many of which list increased blood pressure as a side effect.
Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to look at medications that 28,599 Americans were taking between 2009 and 2018. They found that one in five people being treated for high blood pressure were also taking prescription medications to treat symptoms of other health problems — and as a result, their blood pressure continued to be high. Some of the most common medications included estrogen, antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroids.
“It certainly is a higher proportion than I might have guessed starting out, though we see this scenario often in our primary care clinics,” co-author Timothy Anderson, MD, told Medical News Today about the findings. “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.”
This issue creates a chicken-and-egg scenario for many hypertensive adults: Since they’re taking drugs that raise their blood pressure, they’re often prescribed higher doses of blood pressure medication to counteract the original prescription. This can lead doctors to up the doses of those other drugs — and the cycle continues.
While there’s no instant treatment or cure for anyone with hypertension, one of the most important things you can do is talk to your doctor about your lifestyle choices and the regular medications you’re on. Your current regimen may be inadvertently worsening the very symptoms it’s trying to counteract. But with a lot of communication, and perpahs a little trial and error, you and your doctor can find a plan that works for you.