February 22, 1993

A Meta-analysis of the Effects of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs on Blood Pressure

Author Affiliations

From the Arthritis Center at Boston (Mass) University, and the Departments of Medicine, Boston City and University Hospitals. Dr Pope is currently at the University of Western Ontario, London.

Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(4):477-484. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410040045007

Background:  Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have well-known gastrointestinal and renal toxic reactions. Effects of NSAIDs on blood pressure are less appreciated. A meta-analysis was performed to determine the hypertensive effects of NSAIDs and rank them by magnitude of change in mean arterial pressure (MAP).

Methods:  A literature search of published English-language studies of NSAIDs and their effects on blood pressure was done. Studies were included if they met the following criteria: (1) the studies were intervention studies; (2) NSAIDs at any dose or aspirin at doses of 1.5 g/d or greater were included; (3) documentation of blood pressure was provided; and (4) the studies were 24 hours in duration. Studies were excluded if 20% or more of their participants dropped out or if the dose of antihypertensive drugs was adjusted while the subjects were taking NSAIDs. The major outcome was change in MAP while patients were receiving NSAIDs. Each NSAID arm was extracted from its trial. Information on possible confounders, including subject age, trial quality, amount of dietary salt intake, and whether study subjects were hypertensive or normotensive, was recorded. We calculated the average change in MAP on each NSAID, adjusting for confounders.

Results:  Fifty-four studies with 123 NSAID treatment arms met inclusion criteria. The mean age of subjects was 46 years. Of the 1324 participants, 1213 subjects (92%) were hypertensive. The effects of NSAIDs on blood pressure were found solely in hypertensive subjects. Among these, the increase in MAP after adjusting for amount of dietary salt intake was 3.59 mm Hg for indomethacin (57 treatment arms), 3.74 mm Hg for naproxen (four arms), and 0.49 mm Hg for piroxicam (four arms). The MAP decreased by 2.59 mm Hg for placebo (10 arms), 0.83 mm Hg for ibuprofen (six arms), 1.76 mm Hg for aspirin (four arms), and 0.16 mm Hg for sulindac (23 arms). The effects on MAP by using placebo, sulindac, and aspirin were statistically significantly different from indomethacin.

Conclusions:  In short-term use, NSAIDs vary considerably in their effect on blood pressure. Of the drugs studied, indomethacin and naproxen were associated with the largest increases in blood pressure. The average effects of piroxicam, aspirin, ibuprofen, and sulindac were negligible.(Arch Intern Med. 1993;153:477-484)