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Blood Pressure Pill May Lead to Hair Loss

Some blood pressure medications, including propranolol, can lead to significant hair loss in susceptible people.

Q. I am a 47-year-old female who once had very thick red wavy hair. It was so thick hairstylists would comment on it.

In the past several months, however, I have been losing so much hair that I am really worried about how thin it has gotten.

I have been trying to figure out what is different in my diet or lifestyle, and the only thing that comes to mind is the propranolol I’ve been taking for almost a year to lower my blood pressure. Could that be the culprit?

A. Propranolol and other beta-blockers (atenolol, metoprolol, etc.) used for heart disease or hypertension may lead to hair loss. Doctors often consider this a minor side effect because it is not life threatening, but it can have a big impact on confidence and self-esteem.

We are sending you our Guide to Hair and Nail Care with a list of drugs that could cause hair loss. You may want to take it to your doctor’s appointment if you request a different medicine for blood pressure control.

Beta blockers like propranolol are no longer considered first-line treatments for hypertension, so your doctor may have some other options to recommend. Don’t stop the propranolol on your own: such drugs should never be stopped abruptly since that might a trigger dangerous reaction, even a heart attack.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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