Medications to Avoid If You Have Hypertension

Pills and supplements that increase your blood pressure
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If you have been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), your physician has probably recommended some lifestyle modifications, including avoidance of dietary salt, increased exercise, smoking cessation, and weight loss. There are also a number of medications that can increase your blood pressure. It’s important to understand that there are a variety of drugs that can make your blood pressure rise, so you should discuss all of your medications with your physician, including over the counter drugs, herbs, and supplements.

If you have high blood pressure, there are some medications that can increase your blood pressure to a dangerous level. There are other drugs that can interact with medications prescribed by your physician. It’s important to tell your physician about everything you take, including over the counter meds.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDS, are common ingredients in over the counter pain relievers and cold medicines. These medications include ibuprofen, Naprosyn, and others, sold under familiar brand names like Advil® and Motrin®. If you need an over the counter medication for pain or fever and you also have high blood pressure, acetaminophen may be a better choice.

Cold medicines also contain decongestants that constrict your blood vessels, raising blood pressure. In fact, use of decongestants can raise your blood pressure to dangerously high levels if you have been diagnosed with hypertension.

Common decongestants include phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. These medicines are sold under brand names like Sudafed® and Actifed®. Although decongestants can raise your blood pressure, there are other cold medicines, like antihistamines, that can help relieve cold symptoms without causing problems in people with hypertension.

Decongestants can even interfere with your hypertension medications, preventing them from working well.

Contraceptives, particularly those containing estrogen, are a well-known risk factor for increased blood pressure. Most hormonal birth control medications and treatments are labeled with information concerning the increased risk of high blood pressure. This risk increases in women over the age of 35 and in smokers.

If you are taking medication for migraine headaches, it’s important to be cautious if you have high blood pressure. There are several migraine medications that constrict the blood vessels to the brain, but they also work on the other blood vessels in your body, which increases your blood pressure. Some medications that may raise your blood pressure include ergotamine medications, like Migranal®, or the class of medications known as sumatriptans, such as Imitrex® or Maxalt®. Discuss your medications with your physician – if you see a different physician for treatment of a headache, it’s important to tell your primary care doctor exactly what medications you are taking. Midrin® is a common over the counter medication that has vasoconstriction properties and should be avoided by patients with high blood pressure.

Weight loss medications are another class of medications that can increase your blood pressure. Although some weight-loss medications, such as Orlistat®, are not associated with increased blood pressure, other medications, particularly stimulant medications, will increase your blood pressure. If you have hypertension, weight loss by careful diet and exercise is preferable to use of weight loss medication.

Stimulant medications, including treatments like Adderall® and Vyvanse® are used to treat ADHD. These medicines will cause vasoconstriction and increased blood pressure. Provigil® (modafinil) is sometimes used for the treatment of narcolepsy or shift work sleep disorder, but it is also a stimulant that can raise blood pressure.

Vitamins and minerals obtained over the counter or in health-food stores are not always safe for patients with hypertension. Ask your doctor about the effects associated with any supplement you are considering. Some supplements known to increase blood pressure include ephedra, mahuang, arnica, ginseng, St. John’s wort, and gingko. Energy drinks sometimes contain these supplements and can raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels or make it difficult to control your blood pressure from day to day, which will result in damage to your organs, including the eyes, kidneys, and heart.

Finally, caffeine will also contribute to increased blood pressure, and there are many illegal drugs that raise blood pressure to a dangerous level. Check your blood pressure today and discuss your medications with your physician or other health care professional.

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