Why Do Corticosteroids Increase Blood Pressure?


Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that resemble the natural cortisol hormone produced by a person’s adrenal glands. Doctors may prescribe corticosteroids to treat several medical conditions. Patients may experience an increase in blood pressure while they use corticosteroids.

Corticosteroid Uses

According to the Cleveland Clinic, physicians may prescribe corticosteroids, also known as steroids, as a main treatment for patients with inflammatory disorders such as systemic vasculitis or myositis . Doctors may treat rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome or lupus erythematosus with steroids.

Increased Blood Pressure

Steroids such as cortisone can influence the balance of water and electrolytes such as sodium in a patient’s body, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery. Steroid usage may cause fluid retention and result in increased blood pressure.

Reduce Sodium

Patients who take corticosteroids may reduce fluid retention and lower their blood pressure if they reduce their dietary intake of sodium. Individuals should choose lower-salt versions of popular foods such as soups, chips and canned vegetables that are normally high in sodium.

Monitor Blood Pressure

People who use corticosteroid drugs should check their blood pressure regularly and see a doctor if they notice increases in blood pressure or signs of fluid retention such as swollen ankles. Doctors may prescribe diuretics or other medicines to reduce a patient’s blood pressure.

Other Side-Effects

Corticosteroid users may develop a suppressed immune system that results in an increased susceptibility to infections, they may have ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding, and they may develop thinning bones from osteoporosis.

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