What Does Ativan Do to Your Heart? | Banyan Delaware

What Does Ativan Do to Your Heart?

 

Ativan is the brand name for a benzodiazepine called lorazepam.

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.

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Alyssa
Alyssa
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.


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