Blood pressure and OTC drugs

Many patients are unaware that over-the-counter pain relievers, cough and cold products and herbal remedies can affect blood pressure or interact with medicines that treat hypertension. 

Advise patients with hypertension to avoid aspirin (other than prescribed low-dose aspirin) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) available over-the-counter (e.g. ibuprofen and diclofenac) as they can increase blood pressure and counteract the effect of antihypertensives.

Ensure patients who are taking a diuretic plus an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin II-receptor antagonist – as separate medicines or as a combined product – are aware of the danger of acute renal failure if they combine these with an over-the-counter NSAID. Acute renal failure can occur even with short-term use of the NSAID so people taking an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin II-receptor antagonist should avoid them.1

Paracetamol is generally the safest analgesic for people

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