Over-the-Counter Medicines for High Blood Pressure & Cholesterol

Fish oil capsules on wooden spoon
Fish oil capsules sitting in a spoon. (Image: peangdao/iStock/Getty Images)

Having high cholesterol and high blood pressure increases your risk of developing cardiovascular problems, including atherosclerosis, a stroke and a heart attack. There are some over-the-counter medications and supplements you can take to help lower your cholesterol, blood pressure or both. These supplements should not be considered as an alternative to a doctor's care, so be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any supplement or over-the-counter medication.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is rich in a type of fat known as omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake has a number of benefits for your cardiovascular system, including decreased blood pressure, lower triglycerides and increased HDL or "good" cholesterol, the Mayo Clinic notes. Fish oil also makes it harder for your blood to clot, further lowering your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Because fish oil can cause bleeding disorders when taken in high doses or with certain medications, talk to your doctor before taking fish oil.

Niacin

Niacin, also known as vitamin B-3, is also effective in treating poor cholesterol levels. When you take niacin, your HDL levels increase and your LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels go down, the University of Maryland Medical Center states. Although niacin does not directly lower your blood pressure, it can increase the effectiveness of some blood pressure medications. You can purchase niacin over-the-counter, but it can cause some serious side effects, including nausea, flushing and liver damage, so talk to your doctor before taking niacin.

Garlic

Garlic is a food that can also be converted into garlic extract, a supplement available over-the-counter. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, taking garlic supplements can lower your blood pressure levels. Although garlic does not appear to be effective at directly lowering cholesterol levels, it may be able to slow or prevent atherosclerosis, which is the major complication of high cholesterol levels. Talk to your doctor before taking garlic or any other herbal supplement.

Psyllium

Psyllium husks are a type of fiber derived from the Plantago ovata plant. Increasing your soluble fiber intake by consuming psyllium makes it harder for your intestines to absorb cholesterol, causing it to pass out of the body and thus lowering your blood cholesterol levels. Psyllium also lowers your blood pressure when taken with soy protein, Medline Plus explains. Psyllium can cause bloating and gas and may interfere with the absorption of some medications, so talk to your doctor before taking psyllium supplements.

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