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Preparation H Raises Blood Pressure

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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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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