Online forums for managing high blood pressure?
February 19, 2014 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Are there any good (no woo-woo) forums for managing high blood pressure? I need to ask some technical questions about medication.

I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. I am on medication (and I have also lost some weight, and will continue to lose weight, and have eliminated sodium from my diet).

Allergy season is coming up, and I take anti-histamines. I get pretty severe hay fever starting in May and June, but I am also in Japan until April and the change in seasons will give me very severe allergies.

I need to know if the over the counter allergy medication I have brought with me is safe to take with my medication for high blood pressure. Doctors here in Japan will not be familiar with my medication, Claritin, because the active ingredient, Loratadine, I think may be not be popular here.

In other words, my doctor here in Japan, a high blood pressure specialist, may not be familiar with the OTC anti-histamines I am taking.

So I would like to look around on some forums to get a second opinion.

As a caveat, I will likely NOT take anti-histamines without my doctor's advice, unless there is *very* clear information indicating it is safe to do so.

I will instead ask my doctor (in Japan)'s advice on a safe anti-histamine. The challenge then is finding an anti-histamine that works, because my rhinitis is pretty damn severe here in April due to Chinese pollutants and Mongolian sand.
posted by KokuRyu to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Claritin is safe for high blood pressure. As is Zyrtec.

The ones with a decongestant aren't.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:11 AM on February 19, 2014

I've been prescribed Claritin by Japanese doctors in Tokyo, fwiw. I now have a few OTC bottles of it from the US but it's the same stuff.
posted by gen at 5:32 AM on February 19, 2014

Here is an article that discusses it. Claritin--Yes. Claritin-D--No.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:32 AM on February 19, 2014

Do you have a doctor in the US? Any doctor where you are considered their patient (which means basically anyone you've had an appointment with in the past few years). You can call and get an answer over the phone (for this and most other questions that don't involve examining you).
posted by telegraph at 5:52 AM on February 19, 2014

A pharmacist would also be able to tell you if it's safe to take two medications together. You can call any Walgreens, CVS, etc in the US to ask. Please consult a professional instead of an online forum.
posted by donajo at 6:04 AM on February 19, 2014

I seem to remember you're from BC. There is a free health number to reach a nurse to discuss questions like this. However, the number is 8-1-1 from anywhere in BC, and I can't seem to find the number if you're outside of the province. Could your partner call for you? Or could they call that number to ask how to reach them if you're physically outside of BC?

Otherwise I'd try to reach your regular GP in BC if that's possible.
posted by barnone at 6:28 AM on February 19, 2014

Sorry - here's the number to call BC Healthlink nurse hotline: 604-215-8110.
posted by barnone at 6:30 AM on February 19, 2014

I will instead ask my doctor (in Japan)'s advice on a safe anti-histamine. The challenge then is finding an anti-histamine that works, because my rhinitis is pretty damn severe here in April due to Chinese pollutants and Mongolian sand.

I wouldn't doubt that you're well aware of this, but for bad rhinitis in April in Japan, there may be a more likely candidate for the culprit behind your problems than Mongolian sand or Chinese pollutants: cedar pollen.
After WWII, the Japanese government (occupied Japan) decided to replace Japan's diverse forests (that included maple, oak and various evergreens) with fast growing Japanese Cedar (杉, sugi) trees.

The plan was to make Japan self-sufficient in wood products.

Cedar forests now cover 18% of Japan. That's more than Japan's total farm land (11%).

The plan backfired. Over supply and cheap imports drove down the price of cedar. The environment suffered — the soil eroded and the water table dropped. In the 1970s, it became clear that allergies to cedar pollen were skyrocketing.

By 2008, 26.5% of the population had an allergy to cedar pollen (33.8 million people).

Foreign residents of Japan who've been in the country 2 years or more are also at risk of developing cedar allergies.

Japanese people spend trillions of yen a year on medications and treatments for cedar allergies (far exceeding the revenue of Japan's forestry industry).

The government spends 7 trillion yen a year on programs to reduce pollen. The cost to the economy in lost productivity has never been calculated. The total cost of cedar allergies since 1970 could be as high as 100 trillion yen.

Excessive cedar pollen essentially makes 33.8 million people sick for several months every year. In Tokyo, the cedar season starts at the end of January (or start of February) and peaks in late March and early April.

In cedar allergy season, you'll notice masks everywhere in Japan. It almost looks like a disease outbreak disaster movie.
If cedar pollen is at the root of your rhinitis, desensitization therapy could potentially reduce or eliminate your need for anti-histamines while you're in Japan.
posted by jamjam at 9:42 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The yahoo group Bloodpressureline is a surprisingly good resource for BP issues. There's a hypertension specialist (MD) who actively participates in discussion. He'll recommend you try the DASH diet, which is very effective for a lot of people.
posted by plantbot at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Hey everyone,

Thanks for your answers. I appreciate it.

To clarify a few things:

- I am looking for a forum so I can research antihistamines and the drugs my doctor has prescribed me, and then go to the next appointment armed with information that will help my doctor decide if my OTC antihistamines are safe.

AFAIK, there are different kinds of medications for diabetes. I have not researched my medications (I just got them and my wife put the drug description someplace and she's out of town).

- Thanks for the notes regarding Clariton etc. It's reassuring, since allergy season is quite awful for me.

- I had considered calling up 811 (Nurselink) in BC, but I doubt a nurse practitioner will give me the info I need (having a *very* active now-4yo we have called 811 many times). I can probably call my family doctor in BC, but he's as old as my dad (73) and so is not in the office as much and is hard to get ahold of.

- In terms of seasonal allergies in Japan, I am quite familiar with Japanese cedar (cryptomeria, to be precise) pollen. I don't have that (yet).

I am very sure that Mongolian sand and the accompanying pollution from China each March and April is the cause of my problems with severe rhinitis in early spring.

If you are unaware of this phenomenon, please research it.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:59 PM on February 19, 2014

Response by poster: Shit, I don't have diabetes (as per above). I have high blood pressure.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:20 PM on February 19, 2014

What medication do you take for high blood pressure? I'm taking propranolol right now for migraine prevention (it's a beta blocker often used to treat high blood pressure) and the information that came with it says to check with your doctor before starting any new medications, including diphenhydramine. I think this is because (according to my neurologist) propranolol and medications like it can decrease your heart rate. BUT I'm not a doctor, so you may want to ask yours, etc.
posted by cp311 at 5:16 PM on February 19, 2014

Response by poster: Hi there, thanks for your interest. I am taking:



Enalapril maleate

My antihistamine tablets are OTC generic (so no brand name) and the active ingredient is:

Certirizine Hydrochloride

If nothing else, this thread has helped me start researching information about my antihistimines to show to the doctor when I visit next (likely at the start of seasonal Westerlies from China and my spring allergy season).
posted by KokuRyu at 6:34 PM on February 19, 2014

Best answer: Healthlink BC (ie 811) also has Pharmacists you can speak to and they are very helpful. When you call just ask for a Pharmacist and you will hook you up. They have a computer program they plug your meds into and it gives them lists of all potential problems and interactions, which sounds like exactly what you are looking for.
posted by smartypantz at 2:19 AM on February 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I phoned 811 and talked to a pharmacist. The drug combination is okay.

FWIW, after 10 or 11 days of medication, I have gone down from very high blood pressure to 135/92 before bed last night (a gradual trend over the 11 days). But it spiked when I woke up this morning, indicating sleep apnea is probably a problem.

Luckily what I have going for me is I have gone down from 136kg in September 2013 to 111 kg today, without really trying anything except for walking walking walking. Eleven days ago, to avoid sodium, I eliminated all processed foods, including bread.

So we will see how it goes from here.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:31 PM on February 25, 2014

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