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Thinning Hair Linked to Blood Pressure Pill

Thinning Hair Linked to Blood Pressure Pill
Hair loss woman female

Q. I have had thinning hair since I started on blood pressure meds. I had to switch to a short haircut. Since then I have been put on atenolol, Norvasc, Diovan and enalapril. I suspect the beta-blocker is responsible for the fact that you can see more scalp than hair.

Even with the shortest punkiest cut, you see scalp and it is embarrassing. I now own a myriad of wigs, but I can’t seem to get used to them.

When women lose hair due to chemo, it is met with empathy. Saying it’s my blood pressure pills doesn’t provoke the same reaction. I am now 62 so this has been going on for years but it has become much worse since I started atenolol.

A. Hair loss is frequently an under-appreciated side effect of medications. Prescribers may not mention this complication.

You are right that atenolol, like other beta-blockers, can cause hair loss. Diovan, amlodipine (Norvasc) and enalapril are somewhat less likely to trigger this reaction. Finding the best blood pressure treatment that does not do this will require some sleuthing by your doctor.

To help you with this discussion we are sending our Guide to Hair and Nail Care with a list of medications that cause hair loss.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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