We all experience anxiety from time to time, as it is an expected part of life. Unfortunately, some people have to deal with more than the occasional stress. Individuals who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder have a persistent and excessive worry that can be intense.
It may bleed into their daily routine and make everyday activities much more challenging. According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense fear and anxiety or terror that reaches a peak within minutes (panic attacks).
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) released statistics that show 40 million U.S. adults age 18 and up struggle with anxiety. Anxiety disorders are considered the most common mental illness, which affects 18.1 percent of the population every year.
While anxiety is highly treatable, a mere 36.9 percent of those who have it will get help. Those who do reach out for help may be prescribed potent benzodiazepine medications like Xanax.
Xanax, which also goes by alprazolam, is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States. In addition to that, it is the most widely prescribed psychotropic medication in the country. There were 48 million Xanax prescriptions dispensed in 2013 throughout the country.
While it is one of the most used medicines in existence, many of us don’t take the time and review the hidden dangers. Those with blood pressure problems may wonder if Xanax affects blood pressure.
Let’s take a look at how Xanax can affect one’s blood pressure.
Does Xanax Affect Blood Pressure?
If you struggle with an anxiety disorder, your heart may be a significant part of your uncomfortable symptoms. People with anxiety problems often report physical symptoms, including heart palpitations and even chest pains. Stress can have a significant impact on your overall health, and chronic anxiety and stress problems can lead to serious health issues like heart disease. Managing anxiety symptoms can help you avoid some stress-related health problems that could impact your heart.
Anxiety and panic attacks can increase your heart rate and your blood pressure, but how does anxiety medication affect your heart?
A study released by the Oxford Academic in 2018 showed benzodiazepine consumption is associated with lower blood pressure in ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. According to the same study, the effects of chronic benzodiazepine use on blood pressure are not well-documented. The purpose of their findings was to better document how drugs like Xanax affect blood pressure.
Unexpectedly, benzodiazepine use may also increase your blood pressure in certain circumstances. In 2019, a study found that people that experience insomnia and sleep alterations had a higher risk for high blood pressure.
Mixing Xanax with Other Drugs
Whenever you start a new medication, it’s important to ask your doctor or pharmacist what other substances you should avoid. You should also make sure that your doctor is aware of the medications you’re already taking when they first prescribe Xanax. Benzodiazepines can be dangerous when mixed with other drugs that have similar effects. Drinking alcohol or taking opioids with Xanax could lead to a dangerous overdose. During an overdose, your breathing and heart rate may slow down to a dangerous degree.
But can you take Xanax with high blood pressure medication?
If you’re taking blood pressure medications and you’re interested in Xanax, you should ask your doctor about potential interactions between the drugs. Xanax can affect your heart rate, and it may cause hypotension in some people. If it’s combined with a drug that’s designed to lower blood pressure, the substances could potentiate, causing a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
What if I Have Blood Pressure or Heart Problems?
Xanax can interact with certain heart or blood pressure medications adversely. It does not mean you cannot take Xanax, but you must disclose to your doctor any prescription, over-the-counter medicines, or supplements that you are taking. Your physician will take the necessary precautions when they have a full understanding of your medical history.
Even if you are prescribed Xanax, you must pay attention to the common side effects. If you can, you should speak to your doctor about alternative treatment options. You must immediately talk with your doctor about discontinuing use if you experience any of these side effects:
- Weight changes
- Slurred speech
- Decreased blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
Most of the side effects are rare, but they may not be expected, which can cause you to feel more anxious as a result. It results in a cycle where the drug is used to treat a problem and cause worsen your anxiety instead.
Xanax may also cause extreme sleepiness. When you are getting used to its effects, you should avoid operating heavy machinery and driving. It could result in a fatal accident.
If you are experiencing issues with your heart, you should consider other medications to feel better and avoid the risks involved with taking benzodiazepines like Xanax. Through meditation, exercise, and healthy eating habits, you may be able to treat some of the same problems Xanax was designed to address, but it will be a much safer approach. Speak with your doctor to find out what is best for you.