Staying Safe in the Heat: The Risks of High Blood Pressure Medicine

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Everyone is feeling the heat, but for people with high blood pressure, the side effects are even more dangerous.

With temperatures climbing towards the 90s, the potential grows for heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.

But people who take certain medications can be more sensitive to the heat -- putting them at a higher risk.

"You will feel weak, you may feel light-headed, you can actually pass out," said Dr. Michael Kilkenny, Physician Director at Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

Kilkenny said if you are feeling thirsty, that's a sign you're already dehydrated.

"That is your body telling you that you are already behind on your fluids, so it's important to try and stay ahead of that," Kilkenny said.

If you ignore the dehydration, you're putting yourself at risk for heat exhaustion. The signs of heat exhaustion are headaches, sweating profusely and feeling weak.

After feeling these symptoms, if you stop sweating and your temperature goes up, that's an even bigger red flag.

"That's potentially deadly," Kilkenny said. "You don't want to get that far."

Kilkenny said people who take high blood pressure medication are at higher risk for two reasons:

Some blood pressure medicines get rid of fluid for you, Kilkenny said. The heat gets rid of more fluid. So it's much easier to get dehydrated.

Other blood pressure medicines dilate your blood vessels. So does the heat. This can cause your blood pressure to drop too low. The heat will then make your blood pressure medicine feel too strong.

Kilkenny stresses: Don't stop taking your medicine, without consulting your doctor, just to go outside. Instead, take precautions.

Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids except alcohol, which will only dehydrate you more. If you start to feel weak, go indoors or find air conditioning. They're simple steps that can save your life.

According to Consumer Health Information Corporation, these are drugs that will make you more heat-sensitive:

Allergy drugs (loratadine, promethazine)
Muscle spasm drugs (atropine, scopolamine)
Belladonna alkaloids
Mental illness drugs (thioridazine, chlorpromazine, prochlorperazine)
Major tranquilizers (phenothiazines, butyrophenones, thioxanthenes)
High blood pressure drugs (mecamylamine, beta blockers)
Migraine drugs (triptanes)
Ephedrine/pseudoephedrine (OTC decongestant, Sudafed)
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) drugs (amphetamines)

Consult your doctor for more information if you are taking any of these drugs.

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