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On call: Pseudoephedrine and blood pressure

Updated: May 01, 2008

On call

Pseudoephedrine and blood pressure

Q. I am a 64-year-old man, and I've just been diagnosed with high blood pressure. For many years, I've used Sudafed to clear my nose when I have a cold or allergy attack. It has always worked well, but is it safe for my blood pressure?

A. Sudafed is one of more than 100 over-the-counter and prescription decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine, which is chemically related to adrenaline. Adrenaline raises blood pressure and heart rate. In 2000, the FDA recommended the withdrawal of medications that contained another decongestant in the adrenaline family, phenylpropanolamine, which had been linked to an increased risk of hypertension and stroke. Phenylpropanolamine is gone — but where does that leave pseudoephedrine?

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