Can Wellbutrin Cause High Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure
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Question: Can Wellbutrin cause high blood pressure? I never had it before taking Wellbutrin and I don't have any of the risk factors, but my doctor doesn't seem convinced that my antidepressant is the problem. My pharmacist disagrees, however, and says that it can cause high blood pressure. Who is right?

Answer:

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a disease in which your blood flows through your blood vessels at a higher pressure than normal.

  Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure below 120 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure under 80 mm Hg.  When either of these numbers is too high, this can become a problem.  Having high blood pressure over time can weaken or damage your blood vessels, leading to such complications as aneurysms, kidney disease, and stroke.

According to GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Wellbutrin, high blood pressure is a rare but potential side effect of Wellbutrin. And, this is true regardless of whether you have any prior history of the condition. In fact, in some cases, it may become severely high, requiring prompt treatment.

Nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine patches), which some patients may be using concurrently with Zyban, another brand of bupropion used for smoking cessation, can further increase your risk.

Wellbutrin has the potential to increase blood pressure because it affects the levels of certain neurotransmitters in your body which regulate not only mood but also blood pressure.

If you must remain on Wellbutrin to control your depression, high blood pressure medication can be used to deal with this side effect. Otherwise, speak with your doctor about your options for switching to a different antidepressant. High blood pressure is a serious condition which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke and should not be left untreated.

People who are using Wellbutrin should monitor their blood pressure on a regular basis.  If you ever get a reading of 180 mg Hg or higher for your systolic reading or 110 mg Hg or higher for your diastolic reading, you should wait a few minutes and retake your blood pressure.  If it is still high, this is considered to be a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.  You should either call an ambulance to pick you up or have someone drive you to your nearest emergency room.

Sources:

"Description of High Blood Pressure."  National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  National Institutes of Health.  Department of Health and Human Services.  Last updated:  September 10, 2015.  Accessed:  October 22, 2015.

"Hypertensive Crisis."  American Heart Association.  American Heart Association, Inc.  Last reviewed:  June 4, 2014.  Accessed:  October 22, 2015.

"Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) Prescribing Information." GlaxoSmithKline. Accessed: October 22, 2015.

"What Are the Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of High Blood Pressure?"  National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  National Institutes of Health.  Department of Health and Human Services.  Last updated:  September 10, 2015.  Accessed:  October 22, 2015. 

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