The Dangers of Diet Pills and High Blood Pressure

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Blood pressure is simply defined as the force against the arterial walls. A high blood pressure is systolic pressure over 140/90 or greater. Smptoms of high blood pressure include confusion, headache, anxiety, stuffy nose, constipation, vision changes, insomnia, nosebleeds, headache, fatigue, dry mouth, Irregular heartbeat, drowsiness and ear noise, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Andrew Weil, who is a leader in the field of preventative medicine states that the increased pressure against the blood vessels can contribute to angina, cardiomegaly and eventually stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease. Most diet pills are not intended for prolonged use. There are various types of diet pills that fall into the categories of appetite suppresants or fat absorbants. Generally prescription diet pills are only prescribed to individuals who are obese according to their body mass index. This is due to the increased instance of side effects in individuals taking these medications. When discussing the danger of diet pills and high blood pressure it is important to understand exactly how each diet pill works to increase blood pressure.


One extremely popular diet pill that is currently banned by the FDA is the diet drug Fen-Phen. Fen-Phen is short for Fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine. The Mayo Clinic conducted a study of 24 Midwestern women who had no previous heart conditions. Five of the women required major open-heart surgery while the remainder experienced side effects such as heart murmurs. They determined that because Fen-Phen affects serotonin and causes it to pass through the blood it therefore can potentially cause heart valve problems such as high blood pressure.This study prompted the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend heart and lung testing for anyone who has taken this potentially deadly combination.


Adipex, also known as phentermine, is designed to be an appetite suppressant. This medication can be greatly effective for individuals who have obesity-related illnesses including high blood pressure. The major concern with the drug phentermine has been known to cause pulmonary hypertension as well as other heart valve problems. It is imperative to only take Adipex for short lengths of time. This medication is not intended for long term use. Therefore the longer the medication is taken the greater the chance of heart complications such as high blood pressure.


Orlistat is marketed under the name of Xenical and it’s lower dosage, over-the-counter form Alli. These diet drugs are absorption diet pills which means they literally burn or break down fat in the body. Unlike many appetite suppressant drugs orlistat has been associated with actually lowering high blood pressure. Yet there is risk of liver damage and oily stools associated with these medications so proceed with caution.

Consult a Physician

As the demand for diet pills increase, new options continue to be introduced into the market. For example Qnexa was recently introduced by the pharmacy company Vivus. Qnexa failed to be approved by the FDA due to increased heart rates and the potential for hypertension. When taking over the counter medications it is imperative to consult a physician prior to purchase to ensure no drug interactions.

The best way to prevent hypertension for those who are taking diet pills is to remain under the care of a physician. Dr. Louise Chang MD of Web MD also suggests the elimination of smoking, exercise and the reduction of alcohol, salts, and sugars.