Strong over-the-counter cold medications help people make it through the cold and flu season, but some drugs can raise blood pressure. Individuals with hypertension or heart disease should choose medicines by the cold symptoms that they treat. Sneezing, coughing and runny noses can safely be treated.
Drugs for nasal congestion, however, pose dangers. Purchasing combination cold formulas requires special attention to ingredients. Heart patients should use home remedies for stuffy nose symptoms and choose cold formulas that don't contain decongestants.
Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, carbinoxamine and chlorpheniramine work to relieve the runny nose and sneezing that make patients miserable. Hypertensive patients can take stand-alone antihistamine cold medications without adverse blood pressure effects. These are the same remedies used for hay fever and indoor allergy symptoms. Many brands cause drowsiness, so patients should check with their doctors for alternate treatments if cold symptoms linger.
A high fever creates its own group of symptoms, such as chills and body aches, so many people treat a cold by taking analgesic medicines to suppress temperatures and relieve pain. Ibuprofen and naproxen don't raise blood pressure, but some patients tolerate acetaminophen and aspirin better for other health reasons. Analgesic medications like aspirin treat fever by controlling the inflammation that causes it. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises people who already use aspirin daily for heart problems to consult their physicians for suggested fever reducers to take when they have colds.
Persistent coughing due to cold causes throat pain and soreness, and disturbs sleep. Stand-alone cough medicines or cold medications that contain cough inhibitors will safely relieve heart patients' cold symptoms. The Mayo Clinic reports that, unlike prescription medicines, over-the-counter cough preparations such as dextromethorphan and carbetapentane don't have narcotic ingredients.
Patients must still limit dosing, however, according to product directions. If coughs linger, patients should consult their doctors for prescription cough medicine formulas or for re-exam, to discover if another respiratory condition other than infection exists.
Combination cold medications offer one dose to treat varied cold symptoms. Most incorporate an antihistamine plus an analgesic, cough suppressant and/or decongestant. The decongestants oxymetazoline, phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine raise blood pressure in patients with hypertension, so those combos are unsafe.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests purchasing combination drugs that add aspirin or acetaminophen and an antitussive—without decongestant elements. Heart patients who are on daily aspirin therapy, however, should read product ingredients and steer clear of added analgesics as well.