Is That Cold Medicine in Your Cabinet Raising Your Blood Pressure?

Several common cold medicines can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk for a heart attack — especially if you have a history of cardiovascular disease.

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and decongestants contained in common cold meds could increase a person’s blood pressure. Getty Images

It’s winter, we’re in the middle of cold season, and you might be looking for over-the-counter decongestants to feel better.

However, if you have high blood pressure or have a history of cardiovascular disease, you might want to think twice about relying on these kinds of cold remedies.

The American Heart Association (AHA) cautions that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and decongestants that are contained in common cold and flu medications could increase a person’s blood pressure.

Sondra DePalma, DHSc, PA-C, a co-author of the association’s 2017 blood pressure guideline, told Healthline that common decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine, actually constrict your blood vessels.

This decreases the fluids that clog your sinuses when you have a cold, but can be dangerous for people who have high blood pressure or a history of heart disease.

“Restricting the blood vessels can increase blood pressure and a person’s heart rate,” DePalma, a physician assistant at the PinnacleHealth CardioVascular Institute at UPMC Pinnacle in Pennsylvania, said. “This is worrisome for people who have underlying cardiovascular disease and uncontrolled blood pressure.”

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