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Causes of Low Blood Pressure With Opiates

author image Robin Wood-Moen
Robin Wood-Moen began writing in 2000. She is an academic researcher in health psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, religion/spirituality, bereavement, death/dying, meaning-making processes and CAM therapies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in forensic-social sciences from University of North Dakota, a Master of Science in psychology and is working on her Ph.D. in health psychology, both from Walden University.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure With Opiates
Opiates cause a variety of side effects and can affect blood pressure. Photo Credit: RuudMorijn/iStock/Getty Images

The Society for Neuroscience defines opiates as narcotic drugs--derivative from the poppy flower--that can be swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected for a high. Although most notably known for being heroin--this is also the main ingredient in prescribed morphine, Oxycontin, morphine and codeine which is abused by approximately 9 percent of the United States population today. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, breathing problems, blood pressure problems, dehydration, coma and death.

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Central Nervous System

The National Institute on Drug Abuse posits that these drugs should receive close supervision by the prescribing physician and should not be issued for long-term pain relief. Opiates are central nervous system depressants that can lower blood pressure. Central nervous system depressants can make the individual drowsy, initiate the opioid receptors which block pain, and suppress the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Respiratory System

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Connecticut Clearinghouse--the lungs can fill with fluid and lead to shallow and slower breathing and lower blood pressure. This combination of central nervous system depression and changes in blood pressure can lead to coma and death.

Cardiovascular System

The Connecticut Clearinghouse describes opiates and the cardiovascular system as--the slowing of the heart rate and drop in blood pressure--resulting in what is referred to as cardiovascular depression. In some cases, the blood pressure may alternate between high and low depending on severe dehydration and respiratory events that can lead to falling into a deep coma or stopping the heart from beating altogether.

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