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 heart failure that is getting worse.

You may not be able to take over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to help you feel better if you do have a cold. Medicines, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or diclofenac, are called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They can cause you to retain fluid and make heart failure worse. Also, many OTC cold medicines, including nasal sprays, contain decongestants. These include phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, oxymetazoline, and naphazoline. These can raise blood pressure and interfere with prescription medicines.

Prevention is the best medicine for a cold or the flu. Ask your healthcare provider about when and how to get a yearly flu vaccine. Also ask your provider when you should have your pneumonia vaccine. Prevent having contact with people who have colds, and wash your hands often.

Talk with your healthcare provider if you feel a cold coming on. They can evaluate your symptoms and may advise a pain reliever. An example is acetaminophen. This 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.