Drugs With Highest Risk for Dehydration or Heat-Related Illness

heat sensitivity heatstroke side effect of drugs

People who start certain drugs, such as blood thinners (anticoagulants), cardiovascular medicines, over-the-counter pain killers (NSAIDs/non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), antipsychotics, antidepressants and anticholinergic agents (used to treat asthma, incontinence) face a higher risk of heat-related illnesses and dehydration that may require a trip to the hospital.

Australian researchers conducted an analysis, published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, of the prescription drug intake of 6,700 veterans who were admitted to a hospital for a heat-related illness or dehydration.

Among drug classes with a higher than normal risk of hospital admission for dehydration or heat-related illness, patients who had started SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), a common type of antidepressants, had the lowest additional risk with 1.17.

But the highest risk — 2.79 — was seen in veterans who had initiated treatment with an ACE inhibitor, drugs used to treat high blood pressure, and diuretics, which are pills used to rid of the body of water and salt as part of high blood pressure treatment.

There was no additional risk for hospital admission for dehydration or heat-related illness associated with anticonvulsants, Parkinson’s disease drugs, hypnotics, anti-anxiety drugs or antihistamines.

“Prescribers and patients should be aware of the potential for medicines to be associated with increased risk of dehydration and heat-related illness,” the researchers conclude.


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


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