It’s never a good feeling to be told you have high blood pressure. Although the disease is common, it can lead to more serious complications, such as a stroke, a heart attack, and kidney failure, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fortunately, getting this diagnosis means you can make lifestyle changes or start taking prescription medications to help control your blood pressure. However, if you are taking blood pressure medication, you may want to take note of a recent study, which found that certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications could cause serious harm. Keep reading to find out which medications you should never mix.
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There are a variety of medications available for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. What your doctor prescribes will depend on your actual blood pressure measurements, as well as your overall health, says the Mayo Clinic. Taking two or more medications is often the most effective approach, but finding the right combination can be a “trial and error” process.
But while medication does not work for patients with resistant hypertension, which occurs when blood pressure remains high, even when three or more drugs are taken, it is certainly effective for others. These people should be aware of a recent study that found that there may be an additional cause for concern when taking blood pressure medications, especially when you need something for daily aches and pains.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, found that those taking a diuretic and an inhibitor of the renin-angiotensin system (RSA) to treat high blood pressure may want to rethink taking ibuprofen for pain. The results were published in the May 2022 issue of Mathematical Biosciences, with data suggesting that the combination of the three drugs may cause acute kidney injury in people with specific medical profiles. In some cases, this damage may be permanent.
Often prescribed together, RSA inhibitors and diuretics are used to treat high blood pressure. Regular brands of diuretics, also known as “water pills”, include Aldactone, Bumex and Zaroxolyn. RSA inhibitors include both angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which you can recognize as Lotensin, Accupril, or Monopril, and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARA), which include branded products such as Micardis, Atacand and Teveten.
The most common brands of ibuprofen are available over-the-counter at pharmacies, and you may know them from the Advil and Motrin brands.
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According to the author of the study, Anita LaytonPhD, Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine and Professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Pharmacy and Biology at the University of Waterloo, the risk of acute kidney injury may have something to do with the amount of water in your body .
“Diuretics are a family of drugs that make the body contain less water,” Layton said in a press release describing the results. “Being dehydrated is a major factor in acute kidney injury, and then the RAS inhibitor and ibuprofen hit the kidney with this triple blow.”
The “triple blow” it refers to occurs when a patient takes all three medications, and the study data suggest that low water intake, myogenic response (how arteries react to changes in blood pressure) and sensitivity to medications may increase the risk that patients with hypertension will experience this dangerous complication.
The researchers used computer-simulated drug trials to conduct the study, which produce faster results than human clinical trials, according to the press release. According to Layton, this approach offers health care providers a “start” to better understand the complications of medications.
In light of the findings, the researchers suggest switching from ibuprofen to acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, the next time you have pain. However, while these results may seem daunting, Layton noted that the complications will not necessarily occur for everyone.
“Not everyone taking this combination of drugs is having problems,” he added. “But research shows that this is a sufficient problem that you should be careful about.”
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