Can ativan lower blood pressure

What Does Ativan Do to Your Heart?

Benzodiazepines or benzos are central nervous system depressants that increase levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain to reduce nerve activity and produce relaxation. GABA works by blocking brain signals (neurotransmissions), reducing nerve activity, and making drugs like Ativan effective medications for seizures and anxiety disorders. But while it may help treat some conditions, what does Ativan do to your heart? This is a concerning topic for those taking this drug regularly for their conditions.

How Does Ativan Affect Your Heart?

Despite being a prescription drug, Ativan poses the threat of tolerance and addiction because of its impact on the brain, which is why it’s only recommended for short-term use. However, anxiety disorders, insomnia, and seizures aren’t usually short-term problems. As a result, when this drug is no longer an option for people who once took it for their conditions, they may try to self-medicate by obtaining it illegally or doctor shopping (going to several doctors for a prescription).

Unfortunately, because of benzos’ effects on the brain, long-term abuse often leads to addiction. With an Ativan addiction comes a variety of health issues, such as heart problems. Ativan affects the heart by slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. This drug depresses the central nervous system, and physiological functions like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and circulation are reduced, contributing to relaxation.

Bradycardia (Slow Heart Rate)

Although these side effects are common in people who take Ativan, they can become dangerous when the drug is abused; this includes taking a higher dose than directed and mixing it with other drugs or alcohol. Otherwise known as bradycardia, having a slower than normal heart rate can have a huge impact as, usually, adults have a resting heartbeat of between 60 and 100 times a minute.

Although these side effects are common in people who take Ativan, they can become dangerous when the drug is abused; this includes taking a higher dose than directed and mixing it with other drugs or alcohol. Otherwise known as bradycardia, having a slower than normal heart rate can have a huge impact as, usually, adults have a resting heartbeat of between 60 and 100 times a minute.

While it’s normal for Ativan to reduce your heart rate slightly when taking it as prescribed, if abused or mixed with other depressants like alcohol, it can potentially lead to heart attack and sudden heart failure.

Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)

Additionally, not only does Ativan lower heart rate, but it can also lower your blood pressure, which can also take a toll on the heart. Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries, which carry your blood from your heart to the rest of your body. You need a certain amount of pressure to get the blood to your body.

Also known as hypotension, low blood pressure causes your heart rate to increase, and the blood vessels in other parts of your body constrict or narrow to help maintain blood pressure. If your heart rate doesn’t increase enough, or your blood vessels don’t constrict enough, your blood pressure drops.

Although rare, severe hypotension can lead to shock, which can be fatal. More commonly, however, hypotension makes the heart work harder to maintain blood pressure and also prevents the heart from getting blood to other areas of the body. Hypotension can also cause injuries related to fainting and falling.

Long-Term Effects of Ativan on the Heart

So, what does Ativan do to your heart over time? Because Ativan is usually prescribed for short-term use, those who take it for longer than a few weeks usually obtain it illegally and abuse it. When taken in larger doses than recommended, lorazepam’s side effects can become worse, increasing the individual’s potential for heart, liver, and kidney problems as well as overdose. Taking benzos like Ativan with alcohol can also intensify the effects of lorazepam on the heart.

The effects of Ativan long-term use on the heart include:

  • Hypotension
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Circulatory problems
  • Cardiac arrest

Ativan can also cause heart problems if the person stops taking it suddenly, which can result in heart arrhythmia or even heart attack. Withdrawal symptoms are common in people who are physically dependent on drugs of abuse when they suddenly reduce or stop taking them. These withdrawal symptoms can become complicated, which is why a medically monitored detox is recommended for people who want to quit a particular drug or alcohol.

Finding Lorazepam Addiction Treatment

Long-term Ativan abuse can lead to a multitude of problems in addition to low blood pressure and changes in heart rhythm. A common side effect of chronic lorazepam use is addiction, a chronic disease characterized by uncontrollable substance abuse. If you’re addicted to this drug, the good news is that you aren’t alone.

Once patients at our Delaware drug rehab have completed their medical detox programs, they can then move on to one of our substance-specific programs. In addition to detox, we also offer benzo addiction treatment on a residential level of care for those who are addicted to drugs like Ativan, Valium, and Xanax. During their treatment, patients may also receive drug therapy – such as cognitive or dialectical behavior therapy – to learn how to regain control over their thoughts and actions.

Our Milford treatment center is dedicated to the safety and well-being of our patients. For more information regarding Ativan (lorazepam) addiction and treatment options available at our inpatient drug rehab, call Banyan Treatment Centers Delaware today at 888-280-4763.

Related Readings:

  • Benzos and Weight Gain
  • Benzodiazepines and Breastfeeding: Is It Safe?
  • How Long Benzos Stay in Your System

Are There Health Risks of Long-Term Ativan Use?

Written by: Editorial Staff

Updated: Oct 06, 2022

Ativan is a drug in the benzodiazepine class – a group of drugs including Xanax and Valium that are often used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, sleep issues, and other illnesses.

These medications first appeared on the market in the 1960s as an alternative to barbiturates, which had come under criticism for their tendency to cause dangerous overdose. Though benzodiazepines (benzos) are considered to be safer, they are still addictive drugs that can cause a range of health problems, especially due to long-term use.

Due to the fact that drugs like Ativan easily result in tolerance and tend to cause both physical and emotional issues after an extended period, they’re only recommended for short-term use. Unfortunately, anxiety disorders and insomnia are not frequently short-term problems. Even if doctors stop prescribing Ativan after a few weeks, people may try to self-medicate by obtaining the drug illegally or may seek out other doctors to get more. The longer benzos are used, the more likely someone is to develop an addiction.

Others may simply abuse drugs like Ativan for the high. Benzos can create feelings of peace, happiness, calm, and even mild euphoria at high doses. The increasing availability of these drugs has contributed to the popularity of taking them for recreational purposes; many people can get them from friends or out of family members’ medicine cabinets. Around 62 percent of teens say they misuse these drugs because they’re easy to get from their parents.

This kind of abuse also increases the chances that an addiction disorder will occur. Once addicted, there’s a good chance that the user will end up taking the drug for long enough to start experiencing dangerous health effects.

Worried about your Ativan use? Take our free and confidential addiction assessment today.

General Health Risks

Studies have linked long-term benzodiazepine use with significant and lasting cognitive and emotional problems. Memory impairment is one of the most commonly reported issues. Other possible effects include:

  • Impaired attention span
  • Difficulties with verbal learning
  • Psychomotor, visuomotor, and visuo-conceptual problems
  • Disruption of the sleep cycle
  • Worsened mood disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Mania
  • Psychosis
  • Sexual dysfunction

Studies indicate that certain anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder and social phobia, are not only worsened, but may also be caused by long-term use of drugs like Ativan.

They’re also associated with a phenomenon called “rebounded anxiety” in which a person stops taking the drug, and their symptoms become worse than they were before being prescribed the drug. This anxiety may last for weeks or months, and it may have to be controlled by other medications.

If you or someone you love is struggling with the devastating side effects of addiction and are unsure of where to turn, call us today at . Desert Hope, American Addiction Centers’ Las Vegas rehab treatment facility, is ready to help you get the treatment you need today.


After learning of the possible health effects of long-term use of Ativan, people may want to stop taking it. However, it’s not that simple. There are a couple of serious potential withdrawal symptoms that can appear, especially if a person stops taking a benzodiazepine all at once.

Antivan withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal ideation

In severe cases, seizures can be fatal. Suicidal thoughts combined with depression and other emotional symptoms are often the more pressing concerns. Either way, doctors almost always recommend that individuals who have been taking Ativan or a similar drug taper off from the medication over a long period of time to avoid these risks. This tapering approach should be overseen by a physician.


What can Ativan use do to the heart and circulatory system?

Ativan is a benzodiazepine – a type of drug that depresses the nervous system. This affects various organs in the body, including the heart and the related circulatory system. As described by, taking Ativan can slow heart rate and decrease blood pressure, and these can be mild side effects for most people taking short courses of the drug. However, if a person is taking too much of the drug for a long time, Ativan can cause problems with the heart, including: 

  • Hypotension, or chronically low blood pressure  
  • Changes in heart rate  
  • Heart rhythm problems 
  • Cardiac arrest 

Ativan can also cause heart problems if the person stops taking it suddenly. This can result in heart arrhythmia or even heart attack in some cases.

Does Ativan use affect the digestive system?

While Ativan generally has mild side effects on the digestive system while taking it, long-term use or withdrawal tell another story. Withdrawal from Ativan or other benzos can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other types of severe gastrointestinal upset. Often, people who are on long-term courses of drugs like Ativan can also develop symptoms that resemble irritable bowel syndrome and cause extreme discomfort. If this goes on long enough, it can result in damage to the digestive tract. However, it appears these symptoms will improve once withdrawal is complete.  

Nevertheless, it is not safe to stop taking a short-acting benzo like Ativan without a doctor’s help. Doing so can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures. For this reason, while quitting cold turkey might seem like the way to go to get past the digestive symptoms quickly, it is safer to follow a doctor’s recommendation for a slow, safe taper off the drug.

How does tolerance to Ativan build over time?

Tolerance is a condition in which the body gets used to the presence of a drug, such as Ativan, resulting in the drug becoming less effective for the condition it is treating. The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes the result, which is that the individual who is taking the drug begins to notice it doesn’t seem to work as well anymore. This decreased effectiveness sometimes causes people to increase their dosage on their own to manage seemingly worsening symptoms. This can lead to tolerance to the increased dosage, causing the person to increase the dosage again and leading to a cycle that results in tolerance to high doses of the drug. This, in turn, can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms if the individual stops using Ativan suddenly, and some of these symptoms can be fatal. 

Tolerance to drugs like Ativan can happen very quickly. In fact, addiction to benzos occurs in about 40 percent of people who take these drugs for at least six weeks, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.  This means that lenient prescribing practices and self-treating conditions as described above can quickly lead to dangerous use of this prescription drug.

What drugs interact negatively with Ativan?

An article from American Family Physician states that benzodiazepines like Ativan can react negatively with other drugs that act as nervous system depressants. These include prescription medications, illicit drugs, and other substances, such as: 

  • Opioids 
  • Hypnotics 
  • Anti-seizure medications 
  • Antihistamines 
  • Alcohol 

Combining Ativan with any of these substances can result in extremely suppressed breathing and circulation, which in turn can cause the person to become nonresponsive. In particular, combining benzos and opioids or benzos and alcohol is a common cause of overdose in people who use or abuse these drugs. 

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Tell your doctor if you are taking, have recently taken or might take any other medicines. It is especially important to note the following drugs:

If necessary, your doctor will reduce the dose of these drugs before you use lorazepam.

Avoid alcohol while taking lorazepam as this may increase the sedative properties of the drug.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking Lorazepam before using any other medicines or when you are hospitalized.

Some elderly patients may experience dizziness and fainting after taking Lorazepam.

When taking Lorazepam, there is a risk of developing addiction, which can lead to a gradual decrease in effectiveness after several weeks of taking Lorazepam.

Lorazepam has the potential to develop dependence, particularly in patients with a history of alcohol and/or recreational drug abuse.

With the usual regimen of lorazepam, the development of dependence is unlikely, but the risk increases with increasing dose and duration of treatment, as well as in patients with a history of alcohol and / or recreational drug abuse, or in patients with a personality disorder. Therefore, lorazepam should be avoided in patients with a history of alcohol and/or recreational drug abuse.

Dependence can lead to the development of a withdrawal syndrome, especially when treatment is stopped abruptly. Therefore, it is necessary to cancel the drug gradually.

When taking lorazepam for more than 4 weeks, your doctor should conduct a study of the peripheral blood picture, as well as a biochemical blood test for liver markers, since drugs in this group can lead to impaired liver function.

Long-term use of Lorazepam may lead to the development of drug dependence. Therefore, Lorazepam is usually prescribed in short courses lasting from several days to 4 weeks, including a period of dose reduction and drug withdrawal. This reduces the risk of developing drug dependence or adverse side effects observed when the drug is discontinued. (See section "Cancellation of Lorazepam").

The dose of Lorazepam should be increased gradually to avoid side effects.

How to take Lorazepam

Lorazepam should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you have any doubts, then you should consult with your doctor.

When Lorazepam is used to treat anxiety and insomnia, treatment usually lasts from a few days to 4 weeks, including a period of dose reduction and drug withdrawal.

The physician should prescribe the lowest effective dose, calculated for the shortest possible period of taking the drug.

Lorazepam tablets should be swallowed with water.

Adults and children over 13 years of age

For anxiety, the daily dose of Lorazepam is 1-4 mg taken in divided doses. Your healthcare provider will determine how often you should take Lorazepam. It is not recommended to take Lorazepam to children under 12 years of age with anxiety.

For sleep disturbances, 1-2 mg Lorazepam at bedtime is prescribed. Before taking the drug, you must be sure that you can sleep for 7-8 hours.

Lorazepam 2-3 mg is given the night before surgery and 2-4 mg 1-2 hours before surgery.

Children 5 to 13 years old

For surgery, the dose is usually 0.5-2.5 mg (depending on your child's weight) taken one hour before the procedure.

Lorazepam is not recommended for use in children 5 to 13 years of age for the treatment of anxiety and sleep disorders, and in children under 5 years of age.


The physician should prescribe lorazepam to elderly or malnourished patients at low doses.

The drug may be effective at half or even less than the recommended dose in elderly patients, but if necessary, the dose should be adjusted.

Patients with renal and hepatic insufficiency

In case of impaired renal function or mild to moderate hepatic insufficiency, Lorazepam is allowed to be taken only in low doses.

Lorazepam is contraindicated in patients with severe hepatic impairment.

If you forget to take Lorazepam

If you forget to take Lorazepam to treat anxiety and if less than 3 hours have passed from your scheduled appointment time, you should take it as soon as you remember. If more than 3 hours have passed from the appointed time, do not worry, take the next dose at the appointed time. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

If you forget to take Lorazepam to treat a sleep disorder, take it if you are sure you can sleep for 7-8 hours after taking the drug.

If you have taken more Lorazepam than recommended

If you have taken more Lorazepam than prescribed by your doctor, get medical help right away, call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital. Take the medicine package with you, even if there are no pills left.

Stopping Lorazepam

After completing the prescribed course of treatment, your doctor will decide whether to continue further treatment.

The dose and frequency of lorazepam should be reduced gradually until the drug is discontinued. This allows your body to adjust to the absence of Lorazepam and reduce the risk of adverse effects when the drug is discontinued. Your doctor will explain to you how to do this.

If you have any further questions on the use of this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.


Abrupt discontinuation of Lorazepam may result in withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, anxiety, tension, depression, restlessness, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, irritability, confusion, confusion agitation, tremors, abdominal pain, heart rhythm disturbances, short-term memory loss, fever, and sweating. Possible relapse of insomnia. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

Do not stop taking Lorazepam suddenly. This can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms such as loss of sense of reality, feelings of unreality or detachment from everyday life, loss of the ability to feel emotions.

Some patients experience numbness or tingling of the hands or feet, vomiting, ringing in the ears, muscle twitches, hallucinations, seizures, and hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

Increased blood pressure

INCREASED BLOOD PRESSURE - patients may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, chest pain, weakness and other complaints.
What to do if you have a hypertensive crisis

Correct. Most importantly, when the first symptoms appear, it is necessary to take a medicine that will lower blood pressure in a short time. Talk to your doctor about what kind of medicine and in what dosage you need to keep with you in case of a hypertensive crisis.

It will not be superfluous to take a sedative medicine (for example, "Tricardin"). It is necessary to provide an influx of fresh air, for example, open a window or window. If the attack was accompanied by a feeling of paresthesia, nausea and vomiting, impaired vision or speech, it is imperative to call an ambulance.

Wrong. A common mistake that can be made in a hypertensive crisis is to take a drug that reduces blood pressure, which is used regularly. These are the drugs that are taken every day with arterial hypertension to stabilize the condition. Their use during a crisis is practically meaningless. Such drugs have a long-term and cumulative effect, and in this situation, it is precisely those that will start their “work” quickly that are needed.

Don't panic and take pill after pill. Many of them begin to act at least 20 minutes after ingestion. Very often, in a person who has had a hypertensive crisis, who has taken a large dose of drugs, the pressure simply “drops” to low values. This can lead to heart rhythm disturbances.

If a hypertensive crisis is accompanied by tachycardia (palpitations), trembling and agitation, you need to take a medicine that will remove these symptoms. For example, Anaprilin (40 mg), or Moxonidine (0.2 - 0.4 mg), which should be chewed. You can use "Carvedilol" (12.5 - 25 mg). Such drugs are particularly indicated for heart rates above 80 beats per minute.

In case of elevated systolic and diastolic (upper and lower) pressure, you should take "Captopril" (or "Kapoten") - 12.5 - 25 mg. Its action begins in 15-20 minutes.

Another drug that can help in these situations is Furosemide (40 mg), a diuretic drug. It begins to act within 30-60 minutes. The drug is more often used in the edematous version of the crisis, when pastosity of the legs is noted (a small degree of swelling of the skin and fiber), swelling under the eyes.

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