Drug-induced hypertension: an unappreciated cause of secondary hypertension

Am J Med. 2012 Jan;125(1):14-22. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.05.024.


A myriad variety of therapeutic agents or chemical substances can induce either a transient or persistent increase in blood pressure, or interfere with the blood pressure-lowering effects of antihypertensive drugs. Some agents cause either sodium retention or extracellular volume expansion, or activate directly or indirectly the sympathetic nervous system. Other substances act directly on arteriolar smooth muscle or do not have a defined mechanism of action. Some medications that usually lower blood pressure may paradoxically increase blood pressure, or an increase in pressure may be encountered after their discontinuation. In general, drug-induced pressure increases are small and transient: however, severe hypertension involving encephalopathy, stroke, and irreversible renal failure have been reported. The deleterious effect of therapeutic agents is more pronounced in patients with preexisting hypertension, in those with renal failure, and in the elderly. Careful evaluation of a patient's drug regimen may identify chemically induced hypertension and obviate unnecessary evaluation and facilitate antihypertensive therapy. Once chemical-induced hypertension has been identified, discontinuation of the causative agent is recommended, although hypertension can often be managed by specific therapy and dose adjustment if continued use of the offending agent is mandatory. The present review summarizes the therapeutic agents or chemical substances that elevate blood pressure and their mechanisms of action.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Caffeine / adverse effects
  • Cocaine / adverse effects
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Erythropoietin / adverse effects
  • Glycyrrhiza / adverse effects
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / chemically induced*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Erythropoietin
  • Caffeine
  • Cocaine