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Posts Tagged ‘High Blood Pressure’

Surviving Cough and Cold Season with High Blood Pressure or Diabetes. By Our Student Pharmacist, Alexander Schlater.


So you’ve got high blood pressure and diabetes, and now, on top of everything else, you’ve got a cold.

You head to your neighborhood pharmacy to pick up some medicine for your incessant cough and pounding headache. As you navigate the aisles scanning a hundred different boxes, all claiming to provide maximum relief, you wonder which is right for you. You also remember an article you read on the Internet, that some cough and cold products can be dangerous if you have high blood pressure or diabetes. You see a box that says for high blood pressure, but that price tag can’t be right, can it? Luckily, your friendly pharmacist notices you are troubled and comes over to assist. You detail your predicament and they happily explain everything you need to know about choosing cough and cold products if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.

First of all, don’t be intimidated by the mountain of choices on the shelf. Most cough and cold products use the same handful of ingredients in different combinations under different brand names. If you ask a pharmacist about a product, the first thing they will do is flip the box over to see what the active ingredients are, and you should too. All too often people will choose a product with a familiar brand name without knowing what they are actually getting. Some products will specifically say they are safe with high blood pressure or diabetes, but many products that don’t say this are still perfectly safe. Don’t pay a premium for the same ingredients with a fancy label.


If you have high blood pressure:

If you have high blood pressure, but your blood pressure is well controlled by taking blood pressure medication, you may be okay to use cough and cold products, especially for short term use, but check with your doctor.

Check the label for these active ingredients that can raise your blood pressure:

Use caution taking products containing NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. These are used to treat pain, fever, and swelling and may be sold alone or in combination products used for cough and cold or flu. These can make high blood pressure worse especially at higher doses.

Although aspirin is considered an NSAID, at low doses it can actually help protect your heart. If your doctor prescribed or recommended daily aspirin for heart health, keep taking it as directed.

As an alternative you can take acetaminophen. It has the same effect on reducing pain and fever, but won’t affect your blood pressure.

Use caution taking nasal decongestants.

These come in two main types, pills or nasal sprays. The pills contain either the ingredient pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. Pseudoephedrine is the one sold behind the pharmacy counter. Both can increase your blood pressure. The nasal sprays contain either the ingredient oxymetazoline or phenylephrine (the same one as in the pill).

As an alternative you can use an intranasal steroid such as fluticasone, triamcinolone, or budesonide. These can help with nasal congestion without affecting your blood pressure, and, if you have allergies, they will help with those too.


If you have diabetes:

As with high blood pressure, if your diabetes is well controlled with medications, these products may be suitable for short term use.

Use caution taking nasal decongestants. The same ones that can raise your blood pressure can raise your blood sugar. These include pills containing the ingredients pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, and the nasal sprays containing the ingredients phenylephrine and oxymetazoline.

Use caution with liquid, chewable, and lozenge medications.

These products often contain sweeteners which may increase your blood sugar. Since sweeteners are inactive ingredients, they might be harder to identify from the label. When in doubt, check with your pharmacist. If possible, opt for a pill that is swallowed. Many products also have sugar free varieties available.

As you can see, there really aren’t that many products that you need to avoid. Don’t be intimidated by all the different brand names and sensational claims. Check your medication label for the active ingredients and know what you are taking. And rest assured, if you’re ever unsure of what is best to take, your pharmacist always has your back. All you have to do is ask.

Heart Failure and You. By Our April Student Pharmacist, T’Bony Jewell.


Congestive Heart failure (CHF) is a complex disease that affects your heart’s ability to effectively pump blood to your organs. CHF is usually a result of heart muscle remodeling; the muscle can become big and baggy or stiff and rigid. It is often caused by consistently high blood pressure and coronary artery disease (CAD).

High blood pressure is an increased resistance in blood flow and can be caused by a sodium rich diet, genetics, or poor kidney function.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is often the result of plaque buildup in the arteries surrounding the heart. It can be caused by genetics or an inactive lifestyle coupled with a poor, cholesterol rich diet.

Treating the underlying causes of CHF can aide in its control and relief of symptoms.

High blood pressure can be managed by weight loss, exercise, and eating a heart healthy diet that is low in sodium (less than 2000 mg per day).

CAD can be controlled and prevented by eating a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats, adherence to cholesterol lowering medications (like Statins), and increased daily activity.

Things you can do to prevent hospitalizations from worsening symptoms of CHF:

  1. Take your medications as directed by your physician.
    • Your medications work together to prevent your heart from working too hard. They also prevent your body from holding on to extra fluid that can build around your lungs making it difficult to breathe..
  2. Weigh yourself daily!
    • Weight changes are indicative of fluid retention. Limit your fluid and salt intake to help your diuretics work more effectively Any weight gain over two pounds in one day or 5-10 pounds in a week puts you at risk for being admitted to the hospital.
  3. Stay active.
    • Improving the function of the heart is beneficial in reducing symptoms. Your medications will make you feel better and help you to tolerate physical activity.
  4. Talk you your local pharmacist!
    • Pharmacists are great at recognizing gaps in medication therapy and offering alternatives to help you stay adherent. Pharmacists may also effectively communicate with your physician to help manage your therapy.
  5. Get your family involved.
    • Having a great support system to help you maintain a routine is another way to stay healthy. Family members can help you remember what’s in your diet, notice oncoming symptoms, and remind you to take your medications and weigh yourself.

Stay heart healthy and out of the hospital by using these tips.


High Blood Pressure: How High is Too High? By Katheryn Schafer, Student Pharmacist!

Everyone needs a blood pressure. However, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be dangerous. Over 76 million US adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, but many more may be at risk and not even know it. Many people with high blood pressure feel completely fine and have no symptoms at all. But just because a person cannot feel high blood pressure does not mean it is harmless.

What is considered normal blood pressure? The American Heart Association (AHA) considers normal blood pressure to be a reading of less that 120 for your systolic pressure (the top number on your blood pressure monitor) and less than 80 for your diastolic pressure (the bottom number). High blood pressure would be a systolic pressure over 140 and a diastolic pressure over 90. To see a chart that shows high and normal blood pressure numbers, go HERE.

High blood pressure can lead to damaged blood vessels. Just like high water pressure can burst pipes in a house, high blood pressure can cause tears in blood vessels, which can lead to stroke and other serious health problems.

High blood pressure can be prevented. Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for developing high blood pressure.

Here are ways you can reduce your risk:

  • Decrease the amount of salt in your diet: a high salt diet causes your body to retain water, which increases your blood pressure and can overwork your heart.
  • Exercise: physical activity can help to strengthen your heart, which will help your body maintain a healthy blood pressure.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke: smoking raises blood pressure and causes fatty build up in arteries, which can also contribute to high blood pressure.

For more resources on high blood pressure, check out these websites and be sure to talk to your pharmacist!