Some ingredients in cold medicine can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke
Eighty million adults in this country—a large number of them African Americans—have high blood pressure. For them, reading the label on cold medicine and other over-the-counter remedies could keep them safe.
When the sniffles or a cough kick in, most of us head to the drug store to pick up cold medicine or cough syrup. But many of these medicines have ingredients that can increase blood pressure or raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke. So the American Heart Association recommends folks with high blood pressure know which medicines might interfere with the effectiveness of heart medications they’re already taking or raise their blood pressure.
What does this mean for you? If you have high blood pressure, read the labels of all prescription or non-prescription medicines you take. Some are labeled as safe for people with hypertension. Others have warnings for people with high blood pressure. Look for these warnings, and avoid those products.
Note that some medicines contain decongestants, a common ingredient in cold, flu and allergy medicines known to raise blood pressure. And the FDA recently issued an advisory requiring new labels on medications used for headaches, backaches, arthritis and multisymptom cold remedies. The new labels strengthen an existing warning that nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also called NSAIDs) increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke.