A Good Read: The Label on Your Cold Medicine

Published by Heart Insight Magazine

If you or someone you care about is among the nearly half of U.S. adults with high blood pressure, reading the label on your cold medicine and other over-the-counter treatments is important for your health.

The Danger

As cold and flu season take hold, many Americans will reach for cold medicines and pain killers at their local drug store. What they may not know, however, is that these medicines may have ingredients that increase blood pressure or increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Decongestants, a common ingredient in cold, flu and allergy medicines, can raise blood pressure, making it difficult to keep blood pressure in a healthy range. The American Heart Association says that people with high blood pressure should be aware of the medicines that can increase blood pressure or interfere with the effectiveness of their heart medicines.

A few decongestant names to look for include: phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine.

Recently, the FDA issued an advisory requiring new labels on prescription and non-prescription drugs commonly used for headaches, backaches, arthritis and even multisymptom cold remedies.

The new labels strengthen an existing warning that nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke. It’s important to know that the increased risk of heart attack and stroke can occur within the first few weeks of taking an NSAID, and may increase with longer use and higher doses.

Read the full story