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High Blood Pressure and Drug Safety

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One of the goals when you take drugs for high blood pressure is to be sure the medication is working effectively. One step toward achieving this goal is to avoid some medications. What kinds of problems might other drugs cause?

  • Some drugs can make blood pressure rise. If you have high blood pressure to begin with, it can rise to dangerous levels.
  • Some medications may interact with blood pressure medicine. This can prevent either drug from working properly.

Here are common types of medication that can make high blood pressure worse.

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NSAIDs and High Blood Pressure

NSAIDs -- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- include both prescription and over-the-counter varieties. They are often used to relieve pain or reduce inflammation from conditions such as arthritis. However, NSAIDs can make the body retain fluid and decrease kidney function. This may cause blood pressure to rise even higher, putting greater stress on your heart and kidneys.

Common NSAIDs include:

You may also find NSAIDs in over-the-counter medication for other health problems. Cold medicine, for example, often contains NSAIDs. It's a good idea whenever you purchase an over-the-counter drug to check the label for NSAIDs. Ask your doctor if any NSAID is OK for you to use. Your doctor may be able to recommend alternatives, such as using acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen.

Blood Pressure and Cough and Cold Medications

Many cough and cold medications contain NSAIDs to relieve pain. NSAIDs may increase your blood pressure. Cough and cold medicines also frequently contain decongestants. Decongestants can make blood pressure worse in two ways:

  • Decongestants may make your blood pressure and heart rate rise.
  • Decongestants may prevent high blood pressure drugs from working properly.

What can you do? Avoid using cough and cold medicine that contains NSAIDs or decongestants. Ask your doctor for suggestions about other ways to ease symptoms of cold, flu, or sinus problems.

Migraine Headache Drugs and Blood Pressure

Some migraine headache drugs work by tightening blood vessels in your head. This relieves migraine pain. However, the medication also constricts blood vessels throughout your body. This can make blood pressure rise, perhaps to dangerous levels.

If you have high blood pressure or any other type of heart disease, talk with your doctor before taking medication for migraines or severe headaches.

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