Drugs Q & A

Can Xanax Cause Blood Pressure To Rise?

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. A blood pressure reading is given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It has two numbers.

  • The top number (systolic pressure). The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
  • The bottom number (diastolic pressure). The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.

Certain medications can cause you to retain water, trigger certain imbalance that creates kidney problems and increases your blood pressure. In this article, we shall be looking at the relationship between Xanax and high blood pressure.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is a brand of alprazolam, a powerful benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. The medication comes in the form of a tablet that quickly dissolves in the mouth, an extended-release tablet, or a concentrated oral solution.

Benzodiazepines can have therapeutic anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, muscle relaxing, and sedative effects. Xanax works by increasing the effects of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which promotes calmness and produces a relaxed feeling. The drug decreases the level of excitement in the brain to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

Alprazolam is among the most prescribed benzodiazepine drugs in the U.S. and is among the benzodiazepines most often found in the illegal market, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Xanax is often prescribed for mental health disorders related to anxiety. It can be used to treat general anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias. It can also be used to treat seizures. For people who suffer from anxiety, it can create a sense of relief to focus on their lives without issues of anxiety or phobias plaguing them. When used as prescribed, it can calm people down and make them feel relaxed.

Xanax can also reduce physiological symptoms of anxiety and fear, such as a racing heart or hyperventilation. These drugs are so often prescribed because they work well on anxiety and they’re cheap.

However, many people use Xanax for nonmedical reasons, taking it in larger doses or more frequently than prescribed because it can create a euphoric feeling, especially at higher doses. Xanax tends to start acting quickly after a person takes it, and the euphoric effects of the drug will usually manifest themselves within about an hour after taking it.

A tendency has grown in some social circles to view Xanax, as a type of “alcohol” in pill form. It’s become socially acceptable among these groups of friends to get together and share Xanax with one another. Of the 30.5 million people who used benzos in 2015, 17.1% misused them. Misusing Xanax or combining it with other substances like alcohol can amplify its effects, but the results can also be deadly.

Along with recreational use, many people rely on Xanax to deal with issues like situational anxiety without having to commit to therapy, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Xanax is popular in America, for example, because there is a tendency for people to love things that are looked at as a quick fix. Xanax isn’t a long-term medication, so some people “take it when they need it” for relief. The temporary relief they feel can help in a fast-paced world with constant exposure to negative world news, stressful jobs, and uncertainty.

Can Xanax cause blood pressure to rise?

Yes, studies have reported that taking Xanax can cause an increase in blood pressure which can create many problems when it comes to treatment because mixing blood pressure medications and Xanax is highly dangerous.

Xanax can also lower your blood pressure over time because it slows down the central nervous system activity, which can lead to a temporary drop in blood pressure.

In addition, taking too much Xanax increases the risk of slowing your heart rate to damaging or fatal levels. This can result in the development of blood clots that can cause immediate or future damage to the heart.

If you suspect your high blood pressure is caused by Xanax, talk with your doctor about your side effects. Do not stop taking the medicine until you have spoken with your doctor.

Use caution with alternative therapies. Some alternative therapies may also increase your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about any alternative therapies you are using when taking Xanax.

Xanax Interactions

•          Do not use this medicine if you are also using ketoconazole or itraconazole.

•          Some foods and medicines can affect how alprazolam works. Tell your doctor if you are using any of the following: Amiodarone, carbamazepine, clarithromycin, cimetidine, cyclosporine, desipramine, diltiazem, ergotamine, erythromycin, fluconazole, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, imipramine, isoniazid, nefazodone, nicardipine, nifedipine, paroxetine, propoxyphene, sertraline, or theophylline Birth control pills, Seizure medicine

•          Tell your doctor if you use anything else that makes you sleepy. Some examples are allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, and alcohol.

•          Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine.

•          Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.

•          Do not stop using this medicine suddenly. Your doctor will need to slowly decrease your dose before you stop it completely.

•          Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Xanax side effects

Common side effects of Xanax can include:

•          memory loss

•          constipation

•          hypotension (low blood pressure)

•          dry mouth

•          drowsiness

•          dizziness or lightheadedness

•          problems with balance or coordination

•          trouble concentrating

•          trouble speaking clearly

•          changes in sex drive

•          changes in appetite

•          weight changes

•          mild allergic reaction†

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. However, if they become more severe or do not go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects of Xanax

Serious side effects from Xanax are not common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

•          Reduced ability to drive safely or perform other potentially dangerous activities. Symptoms can include:

o          sleepiness

o          dizziness or lightheadedness

o          reduced alertness

o          trouble concentrating

o          slowed reaction times

•          Liver problems. Symptoms can include:

o          abdominal pain

o          nausea and vomiting

o          increased levels of liver enzymes (types of proteins)

o          jaundice

•          Seizures. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of seizure but may include:

o          shaking or jerking movements

o          stiffness or floppiness

o          confusion

•          Hallucinations (sensing things that are not really there). Symptoms can include:

o          hearing something that’s not present, such as a voice talking to you

o          seeing something that’s not real, such as lights or people

•          Risk of misuse and addiction.

•          Risk of dependence and withdrawal.

•          Risk of severe harm or death if taken with opioids.

•          Severe allergic reaction.

Xanmax may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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