Sudafed High Blood Pressure

Overview

A common concern regarding the use of Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) is whether or not you can take it if you have hypertension (high blood pressure).


While an effective nasal decongestant,  Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) can potentially cause an increase in blood pressure due to how the medication works in our body. This is especially concerning in those that may have already have high blood pressure or other heart problems. 


A blanket statement is often given if you have high blood pressure: 'Don't take Sudafed products'. This may not be entirely accurate. Based on the available data, Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) may be a safe and viable option, even if you do have high blood pressure.


Safety

There have been several studies that tested whether or not Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) can safety be used in those with blood pressure problems. 


One of the studies on the matter tested this premise, using patients that had controlled high blood pressure (i.e. well controlled on blood pressure medication). The results showed that average systolic pressure was 133 mm Hg in patients receiving both pseudoephedrine and placebo. The average diastolic pressure was 82 mm Hg in patients receiving pseudoephedrine and 82.5 mm Hg in patients who were taking a placebo. The authors concluded that there were no clinically significant differences in blood pressure among the test participants.


Another study showed similar results testing extended release versions of Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) . The authors of this study concluded extended release products appeared to be safe in the majority of medically controlled hypertensive patients without significant effects on blood pressure or heart rate.


Yet another study tested Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) use in those taking a class of blood pressure medications known as beta-blockers. After the study was completed, the authors concluded that the acute (short term) administration of Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) did not change systolic or diastolic blood pressure from baseline. Heart rate was not affected either.


All of this data indicates that it is most likely safe to take Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) for short periods of time in people who have controlled high blood pressure. You should not take Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) however, if you have uncontrolled hypertension, heart disease or other cardiac problems. 


If you need something to help relieve nasal congestion, Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) may be a good option, even if you have high blood pressure. Be sure to speak with your doctor as they have your complete medical history and can appropriately advise you on safe medication use.


Alternatives

If you are looking to avoid Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) altogether, you can try to following options:

  • Normal saline nasal spray is a safe treatment. Look for products that state they are 'hypertonic'. These products will help reduce inflammation of the nasal passages more than non-hypertonic products.
  • Nasal steroid products (e.g. Flonase) are effective in relieving nasal congestion. The effect may not be as immediate as Sudafed (pseudoephedrine products), but they gain effectiveness over time.