Do intravitreal injections for macular degeneration increase blood pressure?

Our paper, ‘Intravitreal anti‑VEGF agents and cardiovascular risk: comment’ was published in the journal Internal and Emergency Medicine in 2021 (volume 16, pages 533-536).

We conducted this study as no previous study had investigated blood pressure in patients receiving intravitreal injections (such as Lucentis) for macular degeneration over long periods of time. Only one previous study investigated blood pressure in patients receiving intravitreal injections for macular degeneration, however, the majority of the patients in the previous study received a single injection only.

Our study was granted ethical approval by the University of Tasmania Human Research Ethics Committee (reference H114344). Blood pressures are routinely taken in the clinic prior to and after intravitreal injection. We looked at the blood pressure readings of 251 Launceston Eye Institute patients who had at least 10 intravitreal injections. The average time of follow-up was 16 months, with a range of 10 to 31 months.

We found there was considerable fluctuation in blood pressure from pre-injection to 10 minutes post-injection, with blood pressure consistently higher post-injection.  The rise in blood pressure immediately post-injection is due to the temporary anxiety related to receiving an injection, rather than the drug treatment itself. We found no trend of long-term blood pressure increase or decrease amongst patients receiving repeat intravitreal injections. 

Penny Allen

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