Heart Disease: Considering Cold Relief
Colds and the flu can be serious for people with heart disease. Not only are you at
risk for pneumonia, but it’s hard to tell whether your symptoms are a sign of a cold
or of worsening heart failure.
And if you do have a cold, you may not be able to take over-the-counter (OTC) medicines
to help you feel better. Medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or diclofenac, for
example, also called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can cause you
to retain fluid and make your heart failure worse. Also, many OTC cold medicines,
including nasal sprays, contain decongestants like phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine,
oxymetazoline, and naphazoline, can raise blood pressure and interfere with prescription
Prevention is the best medicine for a cold or the flu. Ask your healthcare provider
about when and how to get a yearly flu and pneumonia vaccines. Avoid contact with
people who have colds, and wash your hands often.
If you feel a cold coming on, talk with your healthcare provider. He or she can evaluate
your symptoms and may recommend a pain reliever like acetaminophen, which is not an
NSAID. Also ask about cold medicines that don’t contain decongestants. The bottom
line: Always talk with your healthcare provider before taking any new medicine.