Cough Medicines and Stroke…. How To Avoid A Stroke!!!

October 23, 2007

1619007209.jpgThe risk of stroke with OTC cough medicines had been with us since 2003 after the publication of the study in STROKE  linking OTC cough and colds meds to stroke.  Apparently these decongestants contribute to around 200 to 400 cases of stroke annually. The study eventually led to FDA giving advisory against the use of Phenylpropanolamine ( PPA ) in any medications for sale as cold remedies. 

Now comes a new FDA advisory targetting the cold remedies we use for children.  Apparently the cold remedies have not been proven to be safe but instead cause harm including death.  This really comes timely considering the increase numbers of upper respiratory tract infections in this rainy season. 

But what is really important is for us to understand that there are reasons why one gets a Stroke. Here’s a list of risk factors compiled by WebMD which I want to share:


Certain diseases or conditions increase your risk of stroke. These include:

Certain behaviors can increase your risk of stroke. These include:

  • Smoking, including secondhand smoke.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Being overweight.
  • Diet with few fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that people who eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains (for example, brown rice) may have a lower risk of stroke than people who eat lots of red meat, processed foods such as lunch meat, and refined grains (for example, white flour).
  • Diet with too much salt. A healthy diet includes less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day (about one teaspoon).
  • Use of some medicines, such as birth control pills-especially by women who smoke or have a history of blood-clotting problems-and anticoagulants or steroids. In postmenopausal women, hormone replacement therapy has been shown to slightly increase the risk of stroke.
  • Heavy use of alcohol. People who drink alcohol excessively, especially people who binge drink, are more likely to have a stroke. Binge drinking is defined as drinking more than 5 drinks in a short period of time.


So if you have any of those risk factors…the more one should avoid decongestants based on what we now know in terms of the potential for PPA to cause a stroke.

Storke can be avoided and should be avoided because it is  disabling disease.  I always counsel my diabetic hypertensives that the main reason why I try to make sure they get an excellent control in terms of their sugar and blood pressure including cholesterol is mainly: TO REDUCE THEIR RISK in getting a Stroke and Heart disease.

Genes and Lifestyle Complement Each Other….

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