Hypertension is a condition that’s easy to diagnose and treat, but it’s mostly something that you have to look out for your entire life. When kept under control, high blood pressure isn’t life-threatening — but understanding what could impact it is important for your long-term health.
1. Pain medication
Pain meds, which can also be anti-inflammatory drugs, are prescribed for a huge number of different medical conditions. However, these meds are not without any side effects, and the riskiest ones for people who suffer from hypertension are water retention and decreased kidney function.
While they serve the initial purpose of reducing inflammation and eliminating pain, they can also increase blood pressure, which takes a toll on both your heart and your kidneys. The most common pain meds that are associated with high blood pressure are ones that contain indomethacin (such as Indocin), aspirin and ibuprofen (Aleve, Advil, etc.), acetaminophen (like Tylenol), or piroxicam (Feldene).
2. Cold and cough medication
This particular category of medicine will often contain some form of decongestant. This affects a person’s blood pressure in two different ways: they can either interfere with the efficiency of hypertension meds, or they can increase blood pressure by themselves. For instance, pseudoephedrine is such a decongestant that messed with hypertension.
3. Birth control pills
It is not uncommon for hormone levels to affect blood pressure. Birth control pills are meant to adjust specific hormone levels, which in turn can increase a woman’s blood pressure. Reading the fine print of their labels, you will notice that almost every birth control method that comes in the form of a vaginal ring or a pill has elevated blood pressure listed as a side effect.
4. Caffeine supplements
Coffee is a blacklisted substance when it comes to people with high blood pressure. That’s because caffeine keeps your blood vessels open, thus allowing for a greater blood flow to pass through with ease. As a consequence, hypertension is more likely to occur, causing blood pressure spikes when the amount of ingested caffeine exceeds 200 milligrams.
Since caffeine causes blood pressure spikes, there aren’t any conclusive studies that would suggest a permanent blood pressure raise on the long run, but it’s still something to be aware of. There are some pills that contain caffeine, such as Vivarin.
People who have undergone an organ transplant are required to take medication known as immunosuppressants. Since this form of medication affects the kidneys, it can also cause blood pressure elevation. Examples included cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, etc.) and tacrolimus (Envarsus, Prograf, etc.).
6. Licorice root
Licorice is an ingredient used to flavor some foods, but can also be found in tobacco and beverage products. From a medical standpoint, licorice is good for treating digestive disorders and different respiratory problems.
A plant with fleshy roots, ginseng has long been used for its medicinal benefits. In some cultures, it is believed that ginseng roots can treat infertility and cure headaches. Today, ginseng is used mainly for its anti-inflammatory effects, for its capacity to lower blood sugar levels, as well for flu prevention.
As far as hypertension is concerned, ginseng can increase the risk of both elevated blood pressure and heart arrhythmia. Because it raises your blood pressure to an alarming threshold, it can also counteract the effects of hypertension meds.
8. Migraine medication
9. Weight loss pills
Weight loss drugs normally work by suppressing a person’s appetite. A common consequence is for the body to become more active, which means that blood pressure rises, taking a toll on your heart. Overall, these drugs may be efficient in helping you lose weight, but can cause unwanted side effects with consequences in the long run.
10. Other herbal supplements
There’s more to herbal supplements and hypertension than ginseng. A word of caution: always talk to your doctor about the current herbal supplements you’re taking, so that you can stay informed about if and how they may affect your blood pressure. Some of the most common examples include guarana, ephedra, bitter orange, and arnica.
Avoiding over-the-counter solutions and different supplements is crucial, especially if you suspect that they may, in any way, counteract the effect of your hypertension treatment, or can cause high blood pressure on their own. As always, carefully reading the labels before taking any medication or supplements can be of great help. If hypertension or high blood pressure is listed among the side effects, it’s best to avoid the product altogether.
Aside from meds and supplements, it’s very important to avoid using illegal drugs that are known for increasing blood pressure, such as cocaine or amphetamine.