The Effect of Ketamine on Blood Pressure

When ketamine was originally approved for its anesthetic properties, it was a highly desirable drug because unlike other anesthesia medications that tend to rapidly decrease blood pressure and heart rate, ketamine actually increased blood pressure and heart rate. This is recognized as a desirable side effect in anesthesia, as low blood pressure during surgery could prove to be dangerous for patients and may necessitate various other medications to increase blood pressure. However, does this phenomenon also happen when we use lower doses of ketamine to treat refractory depression?

A study from 2018 published in the Journal of Affective Disorders set out to answer this question by monitoring the blood pressure and heart rate of 66 patients that received a combined total of 684 ketamine infusions. The results showed that low-dose ketamine (meaning sub-anesthetic dose) used for the treatment of refractory depression caused only a very small average increase in blood pressure that resolved by the time the infusion was over. These results were consistent throughout repeated ketamine infusions, meaning that a patient’s blood pressure would not significantly change during each infusion.

So why does this matter? This study further confirms the safety of using ketamine for the treatment of depression and that patients diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) should not be excluded from receiving ketamine so long as their blood pressure is well controlled with anti-hypertensive medications. At Principium Psychiatry, we operate with an abundance of caution and always monitor blood pressure and heart during and immediately after the infusion. Additionally, if there is any question of physical health, we recommend getting medical clearance from a cardiologist or internal medicine doctor prior to starting ketamine infusions. Overall, it has been shown time and time again that ketamine is a safe drug and is very well tolerated by the large majority of patients.

For questions about receiving ketamine infusions for depression in NYC, please call Principium Psychiatry at 212-335-0236 or email at Principium Psychiatry is located in midtown Manhattan. At Principium Psychiatry, ketamine infusions for depression are available when deemed appropriate for the patient’s individual condition. At Principium Psychiatry, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for depression and other cutting edge treatments are also available.

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