Dec 5, 2011

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

The moustache is gone. It went from barely noticeable to itchy over the first two weeks. Over the next two weeks it started catching food and now it is gone. My upper lip does feel a little cold and naked, but I wasnt really happy with how grey my whiskers were coming in anyway. I was feeling kinda old. In case you missed Barrets talk last week and all the hairy lips around town the last month, Movember has just come to an end. Now we are onto the season of Santa, kids Christmas concerts, and eating and drinking too much. I have to remember to be nice to my wife and be helpful with the kids so the holiday season doesnt make Doriss blood pressure go up too much.


If you are on high blood pressure pills and the holidays or the holiday parties give you a headache, what medication should you reach for? Without a prescription, the most common choices in the pharmacy are ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, ASA and acetaminophen. Lets look at how they affect blood pressure and blood pressure pills.


The safest choice is acetaminophen. The brand name for acetaminophen is Tylenol. Acetaminophen wont make your blood pressure go up. Acetaminophen is very unlikely to interact with your blood pressure medications. The only time we really worry about acetaminophen is if a person has liver problems. Acetaminophen is broken down by the liver so if a person has liver problems it might need to be avoided.


If acetaminophen is so safe, why would someone with high blood pressure take anything else? Acetaminophen treats pain, but doesnt treat inflammation. Some headaches have an inflammatory component. So some people find acetaminophen doesnt work that well for their headaches. What about ASA?


ASA or aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid treats both pain and inflammation. Some people find ASA works very well one their headaches. The downside to ASA is the blood thinning. Many people on high blood pressure medications are also on blood thinners. So if they take ASA with their blood thinners, their blood make get too thin and cause bleeding problems. What else could someone use?


Ibuprofen which goes by the brand name Advil or Motrin, and naproxen sodium which goes by the brand name Aleve are called NSAIDs. NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are very good at treating pain and inflammation. They can be very effective for treating headaches. The problem with NSAIDs is that they can increase your blood pressure. NSAIDs are more likely to increase your blood pressure if you are older, male, overweight, have diabetes or certain heart, liver or kidney conditions.


Now stop panicking. I know some of you are on blood pressure pills and have taken an NSAID once in a while for a headache already. Thats okay. If you take an NSAID for 2-3 days for a headache, a sore tooth or a sore knee, that wont be a problem. But if you have to start using an NSAID everyday for a week or more, let your pharmacist or doctor know. They may want you to monitor your blood pressure to see what is going on. How much NSAIDs will affect your blood pressure can depend on which blood pressure pill you are on too. Calcium channel blockers like nifedipine and amlodipine should be the least affected by NSAIDs. However, if you are on an ACE inhibitor like ramipril or an ARB like telmisartan plus a diuretic like hydrochlorothiazide, you should probably avoid NSAIDs without checking with your doctor first.


Just like itchy lips in Movember, headaches during the holiday season are common. If you have high blood pressure, acetaminophen is the safest way to treat a headache just like shaving December 1st is the best cure for an itchy mustached lip. During a board meeting of the MS Society we were discussing, with a little envy, how Movember is close to the perfect fund raiser. Other than a website, there is no overheard like making meals or supplying safety vehicles like we need to do for the MS Bike Tour. You dont have to gather all the participants in one place. For Movember the participants are all over the world. And all the monetary pledges are done online. You dont have to mail out pledge forms, or collect and count money. The whole Movember idea is just fabulous from a fund-raising point of view. And it is fun to look like a 70s adult film star for a month knowing your wife cant complain.



As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.


The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.

We now have this and most other articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website. Please visit us at www.dcp.ca


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