What allergy medicines can I safely take if I have heart disease or high blood pressure?

Dr. Wayne Leimbach, Director of Interventional Laboratories at Oklahoma Heart Institute, shares insights on allergies, heart disease and high blood pressure on our blog today.

Springtime brings not only beautiful weather and beautiful flowers, but it also brings high pollen counts and suffering to people with allergies. Many people often ask what allergy medicines they can take safely if they have heart disease or high blood pressure. Many allergy medications include decongestants that can raise blood pressure, create palpitations and interfere with some other heart medications.

Medications that often can be safely used by people with significant allergies include nasal corticosteroids. In addition, antihistamines such as fexofenadine (Allegra), cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are very effective.

Often manufacturers will include a decongestant with the antihistamines in order to provide additional control of the runny nose often seen with allergies. Manufacturers will often add the letter D to the medicine to indicate which of the antihistamines also contain a decongestant. These decongestants can be phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine or oxymetazoline.

Potential Problems

For patients who have high blood pressure, rhythm problems (palpitations), or who have severe blockages in their blood vessels to their heart, these decongestants have the potential to cause problems. Decongestants can raise blood pressure or stimulate fast heart rhythms. Anyone with heart conditions or high blood pressure, before taking medications that include phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine, should consult their doctor to see if they can safely take such medicines. 


  • Allegra, Zyrtec, or Claritin should be safe for most patients with heart disease and allergies
  • Allegra-D, Zyrtec-D, or Claritin-D could cause problems. Consult your doctor.