Ranitidine, known to millions by its trade name Zantac, is an acid reducer and histamine blocker. It works by blocking histamine receptors in the lining of the stomach. Doctors prescribe it primarily to treat peptic ulcers, gastritis, and stomach reflux. It is also prescribed to treat rare conditions in which the stomach produces too much acid, possibly due to an enlarged pancreas (Zollinger-Ellison syndrome). Ranitidine, in addition to the Zantac name, is marketed by other companies under other names as well.
Fifty million or more people in the United States suffer from hypertension, and the number is increasing every day. Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries. When the pressure is too high, it makes the heart work too hard and can lead to heart attacks or strokes. But what, if any, is ranitidine’s relationship to hypertension?
Although ranitidine was introduced to the public in 1981 and has been the subject of many studies, there have been very few direct studies and no trials on the effects of ranitidine on hypertension. One study tested the effect on hypertension in patients who already had high blood pressure. The test did not show elevation of blood pressure in these test subjects. However, this same study did not test the effects of ranitidine in patients with normal blood pressure.
In a study evaluating the cardiovascular effects of ranitidine in children, twelve children with congenital heart disease received doses of ranitidine intravenously. Although her heart rate fell below baseline levels, the researchers did not reach any conclusions about the drugs’ effects on high blood pressure, instead determining that more studies were needed. This study also did not evaluate children with normal blood pressure levels.
Many people with hypertension who are considering taking Zantac or another ranitidine derivative are rightly concerned about how the drug will affect their high blood pressure. One of the confirmed possible side effects of ranitidine is slow heart rate or bradycardia. If this happens, the heartbeat may become too slow or too irregular to meet the body’s demand. The result could be dizziness or lightheadedness. Only a qualified physician can determine if this is dangerous to your health.
Although not generally considered a side effect, there have also been reports from some patients that taking ranitidine increased their heart rate. If this is true, it would follow that his blood pressure would have risen as well. However, at this time, there is no conclusive evidence to show that there is a one-to-one correlation between ranitidine and high blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure and are taking ranitidine or Zantac, the best thing to do is monitor your own blood pressure after taking the medication and notify your doctor of any significant changes in the readings. You should also notify your doctor if you experience a significant increase or decrease in your heart rate, as any of the conditions can adversely affect your health.