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What to Know: Asthma and Blood Pressure

Medically Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on August 27, 2020

The tie between blood pressure and asthma is complicated. What happens to your body when you have an asthma attack can directly affect your blood pressure.

But that's not the only way the two conditions are related. The medications you take for each of these things sometimes messes with the care of the other.

How the Conditions Intersect

Blood pressure is a major part of asthma.

You can have high blood pressure with asthma. But it usually isn’t because of a severe asthma attack. When you have less intense episodes, your blood pressure might go up because your lungs won’t pull in enough air. Your heart will pump faster to get enough oxygen to the rest of your body, so your blood pressure will go up, as a result.

The Role of Treatments

It’s important to know why medications for high blood pressure and asthma don’t always work together. If you know what you and your doctor should avoid, it can help you feel better.

Some drugs used to lower high blood pressure can make asthma symptoms flare up.

Beta blockers lower your blood pressure because they cause your heart to beat slower and with less force. They also open your arteries and veins to help your blood flow.

Beta blockers can make asthma worse. If not used properly, they can cause problems in your airways and make your asthma treatments less effective.

Medicines this can happen with include:

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are a common treatment for high blood pressure. They help your body make less of something called angiotensin, a chemical which causes your arteries to narrow.

ACE inhibitors lower your blood pressure after the blood vessels open and relax.

If you use these drugs when you have asthma, they can make you cough heavily. That doesn’t affect your lungs, but many people confuse it as a symptom of asthma.

In rare cases, ACE inhibitors make it harder for air to flow through your body if you have asthma.

Examples of ACE inhibitors include:

Certain drugs used for asthma can also affect your blood pressure:

Corticosteroids are a type of medicine used in inhalers for people with asthma, especially if it's serious. They can ease the inflammation that makes it hard to breathe.

A possible side effect of corticosteroids is high blood pressure.

Examples of corticosteroids include:

If you’re on corticosteroids for asthma, you should have your doctor check your blood pressure to make sure it's not too high.

Beta-2 agonists help your airways relax and open. You can inhale them, or take them in tablet from, or as a syrup for your asthma. They can also be injected, or turned from a liquid into a mist for you to inhale.

In rare cases, these medicines can raise your blood pressure.

Examples of beta-2 agonists include:

If you're taking any of these medicines, and you have asthma and high blood pressure, make sure your doctor knows that you have both conditions. They may be able to change your medicine, or your dosage.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Up to Date: “Treatment of hypertension in asthma and COPD.”

Mayo Clinic: “Beta Blockers,” “Prednisone and other corticosteroids,” "Beta-2 Adrenergic Agonist (Oral Route, Injection Route)."

American Heart Association: “Types of Blood Pressure Medications.”

NHS: “Bronchodilators.”

Asthma Symptoms: “Blood Pressure Issues - A Major Asthma Problem.”

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