Hypertension and Decongestants

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If you're one of the 50 million Americans dealing with high blood pressure, you may be putting yourself at risk when you use an over-the-counter medication to treat the symptoms of a cold or the flu. Many of them contain decongestants, which according to the American Heart Association, can increase blood pressure and alter the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.

"Decongestants constrict the blood vessels, so they have a direct blood pressure effect. They counter the effects of blood pressure pills which are designed to dilate or enlarge the vessels," Dr. Steve TePastte, Medical Director.

If you have hypertension and your doctor OKs the use of a decongestant, you should closely monitor your blood pressure with an electronic cuff.