Watch out for these blood pressure boosters

Watch out for these blood pressure boosters

Don’t let these common remedies and lifestyle habits bump up your blood pressure. A few smart swaps can help keep your levels in check.

A senior uses a blood pressure monitor at home

Feel a headache coming on? Stuffy nose? Heartburn? Your first thought may be to reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. But if you have high blood pressure (BP), those remedies could put you at risk by spiking your blood pressure. Certain lifestyle factors can raise your BP, too.  

Here are a few risky BP boosters to look out for and alternatives to try. Plus, learn how your Aetna Medicare Advantage plan provides coverage to help you stay heart healthy. 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)  

NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may cause your body to hold onto water. This means your heart must work harder to pump. The drugs can also stop your vessels from working properly. When the vessels are narrow, blood can’t flow as easily. Both issues can boost your blood pressure.* Research now shows that even acetaminophen, which used to be considered a safe alternative, can have similar outcomes.* 

Alternative: The next time you talk to your doctor, ask them about a suitable alternative for managing your headaches, muscle soreness and pain.  

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Cold and flu medicines  

Nasal decongestants and other cold and flu medicines have NSAIDs in them to ease aches and pains. They also often contain ingredients that dry up mucus and squeeze blood vessels, which can raise blood pressure.* 

Alternative: For cold and flu symptoms, use a saline spray to loosen mucus and soothe stuffiness. The steam from hot tea and warm showers can also give you relief.  

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Certain supplements  

Some herbal and weight loss supplements can contain caffeine or other ingredients that can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels.*  

Alternative: If you have high blood pressure, talk to your primary care provider (PCP) for a plan to lose weight or address the health issues you may use supplements for.  

Some lifestyle habits  

It’s important to be careful with alcohol and caffeine. They can raise blood pressure. So can not getting enough sleep.  

Alternative: Adopt healthy habits that help control blood pressure. Drink decaffeinated tea or coffee. (Check for possible caffeine, even if the label says “decaf.”) Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium like whole grains and leafy greens. And get regular exercise and at least seven hours of sleep every night.  

Keep your finger on your pulse 

Monitoring your blood pressure can be tricky. Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. Your Aetna Medicare Advantage plan may cover: 

  • Blood pressure screenings at the doctor’s office or at your local pharmacy 
  • An at-home blood pressure monitor  
  • An over-the-counter (OTC) allowance to buy a blood pressure monitor 

To learn more about your benefits, visit your plan web page, where you can see your plan information and benefits, watch a helpful video and more.  Or call Member Services at
1-833-570-6670 (TTY: 711) between 8 AM and 8 PM, 7 days a week.   

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* FOR THE LINK BETWEEN NON-STEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS AND BLOOD PRESSURE: Rivasi G, Menala S, et al. The effects of pain and analgesic medications on blood pressure. Current Hypertension Reports. June 2022; 24(10): 385–394. Accessed August 31, 2023. 

*FOR RESEARCH ON THE RISKS OF ACETAMINOPHEN: MacIntyre IM, Turtle EJ, et al. Regular acetaminophen use and blood pressure in people with hypertension: The PATH-BP Trial. Circulation. 2022; 145:416-423. Accessed August 31, 2023. 

*Benson M. Over-the-counter cold and flu medicines can affect your heart. Harvard Health Blog. March 20, 2019. Accessed August 31, 2023. 

*ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION AND BLOOD PRESSURE: Kujawski A, Kujawski S, et al. Coffee consumption and blood pressure: results of the second wave of the cognition of older people, education, recreational activities, nutrition, comorbidities, and functional capacity studies (COPERNICUS). Nutrients. October 2021: 13(10): 3372. Accessed August 14, 2023. 

*FOR THE NEWSWEEK AWARD: The 2023 Newsweek America's Best Customer Service rankings were identified from the results of an independent survey of more than 30,000 U.S. customers who have either made purchases, used services, or gathered information about products or services in the past three years. Customers evaluated several brands: in total over 200,000 evaluations were collected. The awarded brands each received on average 100 evaluations from customers. For more information visit 

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