Q. After using Preparation H for several days, my blood pressure went to 206 over 98 and I ended up in the emergency department for hours.
Later that week I read in your column that someone else had experienced the same problem. My doctor was skeptical, to say the least, so I lent him the clipping. Now he can’t find it to return it.
Would you write about this again? I never had high blood pressure before in my life. It is always around 130 over 65.

A. Preparation H was reformulated many years ago, and now contains phenylephrine. This compound constricts blood vessels, which can cause an elevation in blood pressure.
There is a warning on the label: “Ask a doctor before use if you have:
• heart disease
• high blood pressure
• diabetes
• difficulty in urination due to enlaregment of the prostate gland
“Ask a doctor or pharmacist before use if you are presently taking a prescription drug for high blood pressure or depression.”
The warning on the label used to say:
“Do not use this product if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, or difficulty in urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland unless directed by a doctor.”
We fear that many people assume over-the-counter products are super safe. Many don’t bother to read warnings, or if they do, they may ignore them. Your experience suggests that such warnings are there for a reason and suggests some healthy people should also be wary.

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  1. KW
    Reply

    I had the same thing happen several times. I thought it must be something to do with my thyroid being out of wack & never considered that it might be the Prep H because it was over the counter. My doctor prescribed Annusol to me & I had the same thing happen – heart racing & slowing. I had an even more frightening side effect with Augmentin. My heart was speeding up & slowing down & couldn’t seem to regulate itself for hours.
    I drank a bunch of water to try to flush it out & rested until it went away but now I am afraid to take any kind of medication that I haven’t taken before. I wonder if this is all thyroid or blood pressure related. This is the first time I’ve taken the time to look this issue up online & I have never discussed it with my doctor because I thought I must be assuming something & it must be thyroid – which is something I’ve just learned to deal with.

  2. ray
    Reply

    It happend to me, I went for a normal check up and had used it that morning. i almost broke the blood pressure machine they took it 3 times to make sure. i was trying to think what i had took or drank to do this, then i read the label on preparation h and put 2 and 2 together then i came to this sight and read your blogs. glad not in bad shape, makes you wonder how many people this stuff has sent to the emergency room that could’nt handle it. the warning should be more clear. ray

  3. J.L.B.
    Reply

    Thank you very much for giving us such helpful information. I am constantly troubled and at times shocked at the ineffectiveness of the Food & Drug Administration to protect the health of the public. I am afraid that the agency has become far too cozy with the pharmaceutical/generic/OTC manufacturers. That definitely was not the intention of the an early leader of the FDA, Dr.Harvey Washington Wiley.

  4. bg
    Reply

    I used Preparation H and had a sudden spike in blood pressure. I have a normal blood pressure reading around 106 over 62. I thought this was just a fluke and used it again some months later with the same results. You are right that everyone should read and adhere to labels on over the counter medications and not assume that if you don’t have any of the problems listed that you will not have a reaction to an OTC.

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