Valium and Blood Pressure: Understanding the Connection

Medically Reviewed

High blood pressure or hypertension is a dangerous condition that is often referred to as the “silent killer” based on the devastating effects it has on the body. The condition affects more than 103 million American’s and can have adverse reactions to someone’s long-term prognosis. According to the website Heart.org, “with the aging of the population and increased life expectancy, the prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to continue to increase.”

The number of American’s at risk for heart attacks and strokes continue to grow. The death rate from high blood pressure increased by nearly 11 percent in the United States between 2005 and 2015, and the number of deaths rose by a staggering 38 percent. High blood pressure affects almost a third of the adult population and is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease-related deaths.

Other statistics highlight some contributors to high blood pressure – only one in five Americans gets enough exercise. Additionally, poor eating habits contribute to 45 percent of the U.S. deaths in 2012 from heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. The figures paint a grim picture of the current state of affairs in the United States. The “silent killer” is a great cause for concern, and those seeking ways to lessen the consequences may look to medications as a means of relief.

Valium is a potent benzodiazepine drug that has been used to treat anxiety and ease tension in those with overactive nervous systems. While stress itself doesn’t cause long-term high blood pressure, it can cause dramatic, temporary spikes in your blood pressure. If these transient spikes occur frequently, they can cause damage to your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys, similar to high blood pressure.

It’s known that benzodiazepines have a hypotensive effect, and initial studies have shown that volunteers who were administered five milligrams of diazepam(Valium)  had their vital signs taken to check for a change in blood pressure, heart rate, muscle sympathetic nerve activity, and heart rate variability.

The patients exhibited a significant decrease in their systolic and mean blood pressure. Muscle sympathetic nerve activity was also dramatically reduced, but the heart rate did not change. The studies concluded that there was a connection between Valium and blood pressure, but does that mean its sufficient enough to be used as a medication that can treat hypertension?

As we’ve come to understand, benzo drugs like Valium can be linked to other serious conditions such as addiction. These drugs are not designed to be taken in the long-term because of their potential to cause havoc in our lives. There are many side effects attributed to the drug that can also be deadly, and detoxing from benzos is notoriously dangerous.

While there has been a proven connection to the impact on blood pressure, it’s time to focus on if the negative traits from Valium are worth the positive outcome that it can inflict on its user. Let’s delve a little deeper and find out a little more about what Valium is and how it affects our body.

What is Valium?

Diazepam, also known as Valium, is an oral medication that is used to treat anxiety and nervousness. It belongs to the benzodiazepine family of drugs and has been used to treat alcohol withdrawal, relax muscles, and treat certain types of seizures. It falls in line with a group of medications known as central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which are medications that significantly slow the nervous system. Valium should only be taken as prescribed by your doctor, and it should never be taken more often, or longer than the doctor recommends.

Benzo drugs work similarly to barbiturates and even alcohol. They suppress the nervous system by interacting with gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA0, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating excitability in the brain.

Valium also Carries Many Other Side Effects that Include:

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Euphoria
  • Ataxia (Loss of balance)
  • Muscle spasm
  • Lack of sleep
  • Rage
  • Confusion
  • Speech problems
  • Double vision
  • Respiratory depression

How Does Valium Affect Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure

Essential hypertension is characterized by an activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which contributes to blood pressure elevation. A report released from the Oxford Academic shows that hypertension is positively associated with general anxiety and major depressive disorders. Since benzos are prescribed because of their anxiolytic properties, they also decrease catecholamine uptake in some regions of the brain. Anxiolytic medications were proven to assist in the management of acute blood pressure elevation in hypertensive patients without target organ damage.

A single dose of anxiolytic drugs like Valium during blood pressure elevations has been proven to be a method and avoid unnecessary visits to the emergency room. It also has been shown to reduce blood pressure before dentist visits for those that have problems visiting a dentist. The long-term effects on blood pressure, however, have not been examined.

Low Blood Pressure

Hypotension, which is the opposite of hypertension is a consideration to take before consuming Valium. Since the drug does cause a proven drop in blood pressure, it’s imperative to discuss with a doctor your options before consuming Valium. Some side effects of hypotension include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Clammy skin
  • Depression
  • Blurry vision

The symptoms are similar to the side effects of Valium, and consuming a medication that can increasingly lower your blood pressure can potentially cause death.

Beta Blockers Vs. Valium

Beta blockers are designed to treat high blood pressure and heart problems but are prescribed off-label for anxiety. Valium, as we’ve mentioned, belongs in a completely different class of medications. Beta blockers are prescribed for short-term event-related anxiety, such as social phobias and stage fright. They don’t affect the psychological and emotional aspects of stress such as worry. Valium acts more as a sedative, but it can be taken during an acute episode of anxiety or a panic attack.

Beta blockers, or beta-adrenergic blocking agents, block certain neurotransmitters norepinephrine and epinephrine, from binding to beta receptors on nerves, which help dilate blood vessels, and results in a reduction of heart rate and blood pressure. Beta blockers are designed to treat high blood pressure, whereas Valium is used to treat anxiety.

Beta blockers are not designed to be addictive, which makes them a more desirable option when considering hypertension treatment. In short, Valium can be utilized to treat short-term bouts of anxiety, but beta blockers should be used as the primary treatment if someone is struggling with any form of heart disease. If you know someone that has become dependent on Valium and fear they are becoming addicted, we can help.

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