High Blood Pressure with Indinavir

May 25, 2001

This article is part of The Body PRO's archive. Because it contains information that may no longer be accurate, this article should only be considered a historical document.

The most well-known side effects linked to the use of the protease inhibitor indinavir (Crixivan) are kidney pain, kidney dysfunction and kidney stones. Now researchers in Italy think that high blood pressure may also be another side effect.

Doctors at Padua General Hospital reviewed the medical records of 181 HIV positive subjects who began anti-HIV therapy between January 1997 and June 2000. No subject with pre-existing high blood pressure was enrolled in the study. The researchers monitored subjects for an average of about three years. They divided the subjects into the following two groups based on their treatment:

  • Group 1 - 104 indinavir users

  • Group 2 - 77 users of other protease inhibitors

At the start of the study, the basic profile of subjects was as follows:

  • Group 1
      average age - 40 years
      average CD4+ count - 173 cells
      average viral load - 251,000 copies


  • Group 2
      average age - 38 years
      average CD4+ count - 225 cells
      average viral load - 200,000 copies


During the study, 31 subjects developed high blood pressure (hypertension), all of whom were taking indinavir. Men were more likely to develop hypertension than were women. It is important to note that 58% of subjects who developed high blood pressure had a family history of this problem. In the Italian study, hypertension was dealt with in the following manner:

  • 18 subjects received medication to lower blood pressure

  • 9 subjects stopped taking indinavir; only four of whom had their blood pressure normalize

  • 4 subjects declined to use blood pressure medication because they had only mild hypertension

The researchers are not sure why hypertension occurred in some subjects though they did not rule out indinavir-related kidney damage (kidney dysfunction is associated with high blood pressure). Nevertheless, their findings highlight the need for regular monitoring of blood pressure in indinavir users, particularly in those who have family members with high blood pressure.

Cattelan Am, Trevenzoli M, Sasset L, et al. Indinavir and systemic hypertension. AIDS 2001;15(6):805-807.

This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.


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