Over-the-Counter Medications Might Be Dangerous For Your Heart

Health Topics

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications – especially those for allergies or minor aches and pains – could be more problematic than helpful.

If you have a heart condition or have had bypass surgery or a heart attack, you should be extremely cautious when using acetaminophen (commonly known by the brand name Tylenol), especially at high doses or high frequency, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both of these are common OTC pain relievers.

NSAIDs include ibuprofen, which is commonly branded Advil or Motrin, and naproxen sodium, branded as Aleve.

These medications can increase your blood pressure and increase the risk of having additional heart problems if you already have cardiovascular disease, according to the FDA.

Many OTC allergy medications contain decongestants that also can cause a rise in blood pressure, according to the FDA.

Pseudoephedrine, which is branded Sudafed, is one example of a common OTC decongestant.

There are also some cold and sinus medications that contain a combination of decongestant medications and NSAIDs.

If you have cardiovascular disease, you don’t have to avoid these medications completely, but it’s important to follow the directions when taking them, according to the FDA. Taking the lowest dose for the shortest possible amount of time is the safest option with these medications.

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