Ranitidine, known to millions by its trade name of Zantac, is an acid reducer and histamine blocker. It works by blocking histamine receptors in the lining of the stomach. Doctors prescribe it mainly to treat peptic ulcers, gastritis, and stomach reflux. They also prescribe it to treat rare conditions where the stomach produces too much acid possibly due to enlargement of the pancreas (Zollinger-Ellison syndrome). Ranitidine, in addition to the name Zantac, is marketed by other companies under various other names as well.
Fifty million or more people in the United States suffer from hypertension and the number increases every day. Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. When the pressure is too high, it causes the heart to work too hard and can lead to heart attacks or stroke. But what, if any, is the relationship of ranitidine to hypertension?
Although ranitidine was introduced to the public in 1981 and has been the subject of many studies, there has been very little direct study and no trials on the effects of ranitidine on hypertension. One study tested the effect on hypertension in patients that already had high blood pressure. The testing showed no elevation in blood pressure on these test subjects. This same study did not, however, test the effects on ranitidine on patients with a normal level of blood pressure.
In a study testing the cardiovascular effects of ranitidine on children, twelve children with congenital heart disease were intravenously given doses of ranitidine. Although their heart rate fell below baseline levels, the researchers came up with no conclusion of the drugs affect on high blood pressure, instead determining that more study was needed. This study also did not test children with normal blood pressure levels.
Many people with hypertension who are thinking of taking Zantac or another ranitidine derivative are rightly concerned with how the drug will affect their high blood pressure. One of the confirmed possible side effects of ranitidine is the slowing of the 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. Whether this is dangerous to your health can only be determined by a qualified physician.
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 their blood pressure would have increased also. However, at this time, there is no conclusive evidence showing that there is any one-to-one correlation between ranitidine and high blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, and are taking ranitidine or Zantac, the best that you can do is to monitor your own blood pressure after taking the medication and notify your doctor of any significant change in the readings. You should also notify the doctor if you experience either a significant increase or decrease in your heart rate as either condition can adversely affect your health.