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High Blood Pressure: Over-the-Counter Medicines to Avoid

Topic Overview

Which over-the-counter medicines can affect blood pressure?

Some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can raise your blood pressure or keep your blood pressure medicine from working the way it should. So if you have high blood pressure or other heart or blood vessel problems, you need to be careful with OTC medicines. That includes vitamins and supplements. Your doctor or pharmacist can suggest OTC medicines that are safe for you.

Some common types of OTC medicines you may need to avoid include:

  • Decongestants, such as those that contain pseudoephedrine.
  • Pain medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Cold and flu medicines. These often contain decongestants and NSAIDs.
  • Some antacids and other stomach medicines. Many of these are high in sodium, which can raise blood pressure. So be sure to read labels carefully to check for sodium content.
  • Some herbal remedies and dietary supplements. Examples are ephedra, ma huang, and bitter orange.

How can you know if it's safe to take an over-the-counter medicine?

Always talk with your pharmacist or doctor before you take any new OTC medicine or supplement. He or she can:

  • Check to make sure that the medicine won't interact with your blood pressure medicine.
  • Suggest OTC medicines that won't affect your blood pressure.

It's also important to make a list of all the medicines you take. Bring it to each appointment, and ask your doctor to review it. Be sure to include all your prescription medicines, OTC medicines, vitamins, and herbal and dietary supplements.

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Credits

Current as of: December 15, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

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