Cold medicines (decongestants)

Decongestants narrow your blood vessels, which makes it harder for your blood to flow through them, increasing blood pressure. Decongestants may also make some blood pressure medications less effective. Examples of decongestants include:

  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
  • Phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine)

Check the label of your cold or allergy medication to see if it contains a decongestant. If you have high blood pressure, it's best to avoid decongestants. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter cold products made for people who have high blood pressure.

Herbal supplements

The way each herbal supplement increases your blood pressure varies. Remember to tell your doctor about any herbal supplements you take or are thinking about taking, to see if the supplement could raise your blood pressure or interact with blood pressure medications. Examples of herbal supplements that can affect your blood pressure or blood pressure medications include:

  • Arnica (Arnica montana)
  • Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium)
  • Ephedra (Ma-Huang)
  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo bilboa)
  • Ginseng (Panax quinquefolias and Panax ginseng)
  • Guarana (Paullinia cupana)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Senna (Cassia senna)
  • St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Herbal supplements aren't necessarily safe just because they're natural. Check with your doctor before taking any herbal supplements. You may need to avoid supplements that raise your blood pressure or interfere with your blood pressure medications.

Immunosuppressants

Some immunosuppressants can raise your blood pressure, possibly because of the ways immunosuppressants can affect your kidneys. Examples of immunosuppressants that can increase your blood pressure include:

  • Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
  • Tacrolimus (Prograf)

Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If your blood pressure increases or isn't well controlled, ask your doctor about alternatives to these medications. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or additional medications to control your high blood pressure.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs can cause you to retain water, creating kidney problems and increasing your blood pressure. Examples of NSAIDs include:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others)
  • Meloxicam (Mobic)
  • Naproxen (Naprosyn)
  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve)

Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Talk to your doctor about which pain medication is best for you. If you must continue taking an NSAID that increases your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or additional medication to control your blood pressure.

Stimulants

Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), can cause your heart to beat faster or irregularly, raising your blood pressure.

Have your blood pressure checked regularly if you take a stimulant. If your blood pressure increases or isn't well controlled, ask your doctor about alternatives to these medications. He or she may recommend lifestyle changes or additional medications to control your high blood pressure.

A caution on illegal drugs

Illegal drugs can raise blood pressure by narrowing the arteries that supply blood to your heart. This increases your heart rate and damages your heart muscle.

Examples of illegal drugs that can affect your heart include:

  • Amphetamines, including methamphetamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

If you're using illegal drugs, it's important to stop. Ask your doctor for information on counseling or drug treatment programs.

Mar. 13, 2013 See more In-depth