Meds that Cause Blood Pressure to Climb

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

January 26, 2022

Sometimes people with high blood pressure do everything right. They start exercising, eat a healthier diet and monitor their sodium intake. But then they find that their blood pressure still isn’t budging.

It can be really frustrating when someone with high blood pressure can’t get it under control, especially if they’re also taking blood pressure meds.

Well, it turns out that a lot of people with high blood pressure are unintentionally taking other drugs that make it worse. And you won’t believe how easy it is to fall into this rabbit hole.

One of the biggest contributors to high blood pressure is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs include Aleve (naproxen), Advil (ibuprofen) and Celebrex (celecoxib). All of them come with a risk warning that they may increase your chances of a heart attack or stroke.

Other medications, including decongestants, cough and cold remedies, oral steroids, Immunosuppressants, estrogens and antidepressants, can also increase blood pressure.

If you aren’t taking anti-hypertensive drugs, any one of these medications can lead to uncontrolled high blood pressure. And in people who are already taking blood pressure meds, it can cause them to need higher and higher doses to maintain healthy blood pressure.

And get this. It’s estimated if half of U.S. adults taking medications that raise blood pressure stopped taking them, up to 2.2 million people could achieve their blood pressure goals!

Watch Out for these Ingredients

It’s not just other meds that can contribute to your blood pressure woes. Salt, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and black licorice can also make it rise.

In fact, just a few years ago we saw the case of a man who ended up in the emergency room because he had been drinking a glass or two of licorice tea every day for the past couple of weeks. His systolic blood pressure (the top number) had jumped to 200 and he was experiencing chest pain, fatigue and a headache.

After he was released, he stopped drinking the tea. Three weeks later his blood pressure was back to normal – 110/57.

This just goes to show you how something that seems relatively harmless can, in fact, be very dangerous. In black licorice, it’s the glycyrrhizin that makes it so risky. That’s why we use deglycyrrhized licorice for heartburn and gut health.

So there are a lot of things to look at. And you should talk to your doctor about all of them.

Find Out What Meds You’re Taking, and Why You’re Taking Them

These days healthcare is parceled out. You’ve got your primary care doctor, but you probably see several specialists during the course of a year. And each one may be giving you prescriptions without knowing what other providers have prescribed and what their long-term healthcare plans are for you.

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I recommend bringing your pill bottles with you to your doctor’s appointments. The labels include all the details they need, such as the name of the medication, proper dosage and how often to take it. Include any over-the-counter medicines you take, and be prepared to talk about the foods and beverages you consume.

Then, ask the hard questions.

“Does this affect my blood pressure?”

“Why am I taking this?”

“Do I really need it?”

“Can I get by with a lower dose?”

Also, it’s a good idea to find out if any of the medications you take are on the Beer’s list. These are medications that are potentially inappropriate for use in older adults, so you want to avoid them whenever possible.

Remember, the stronger the medication, the stronger the side effects. The fewer medications you are on, the better off you will be.


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Hwang AY, Dave CV, Smith SM. Use of Prescription Medications That Potentially Interfere With Blood Pressure Control in New-Onset Hypertension and Treatment-Resistant Hypertension. Am J Hypertens. 2018 Nov 13;31(12):1324-1331.

Vitarello JA, Fitzgerald CJ, Cluett JL, Juraschek SP, Anderson TS. Prevalence of Medications That May Raise Blood Pressure Among Adults With Hypertension in the United States. JAMA Intern Med. 2021 Nov 22:e216819.

Have High Blood Pressure? You May Want to Check Your Meds. Press Release. American College of Cardiology. May 2021.

Falet JP, Elkrief A, Green L. Hypertensive emergency induced by licorice tea. CMAJ. 2019 May;191(21):E581-E583

Omar HR, Komarova I, El-Ghonemi M, et al. Licorice abuse: time to send a warning message. Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2012;3(4):125-138.