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Only Half of the Estimated 67 Million Americans with High Blood Pressure Know to Take a Special Cough, Cold or Flu Medicine

St. Joseph urges those with high blood pressure to avoid OTC medicines with potentially dangerous ingredients

BALTIMORE, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent survey by St. Joseph Health Products found that nearly half of high blood pressure sufferers don't know they should take a special over-the-counter (OTC) cough, cold or flu medicine. That means cold and flu season can carry an extra, and avoidable, risk to a significant portion of the 67 million Americans who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure — as well as the estimated 14 million people who are unaware of their condition.

Even more alarming than the lack of awareness is that less than 10 percent of the survey respondents actually know the most common OTC ingredient to avoid: decongestants. OTC cough and cold medicines with decongestants help to reduce nasal swelling in part by narrowing the blood vessels in the nose and facial area. However, the narrowing effect of decongestants can also affect other blood vessels while increasing blood pressure and heart rate, making it a potentially dangerous situation for the millions of Americans who suffer from high blood pressure.

"We were shocked at how many people with high blood pressure still don't know to avoid decongestants," said Bernie Kropfelder, EVP Sales & Marketing, ILEX Consumer Products Group. "Annually anywhere from 5 - 20 percent of the U.S. population will catch the flu, so we hope the survey will help to raise awareness among high blood pressure sufferers and encourage them to talk to their doctor or pharmacist about which OTC medicines to avoid."

As a trusted brand that has been protecting the hearts of Americans for years, the makers of St. Joseph 81mg aspirin recently introduced five new cough, cold and flu medications specially formulated for people with high blood pressure. None of the five new products contain decongestants. Additionally, for those formulations targeted for consumers with fever and pain, the active ingredient is acetaminophen. The advantage of using acetaminophen is that it will not interfere with the benefits of an aspirin regimen. Cough and cold medications with ibuprofen and naproxen can potentially limit the efficacy of aspirin therapy if taken concurrently with aspirin.

The five new St. Joseph products include: Cold & Flu, Maximum Strength Flu, Cough & Cold, Chest Congestion & Cough, and Multi-Symptom Cold with both day and night relief. All are sold in a 24-count, with the exception of the Multi-Symptom Cold Day and Night, which contains 12 night and 20 day formulations.

The new range of products will allow cold and flu sufferers to relieve their symptoms quickly without having an adverse effect on their blood pressure. In addition to providing safe relief of cough, cold and flu symptoms for high blood pressure sufferers, the new line of St. Joseph cold and flu medicines offers a value savings for consumers in the form of higher pill counts than comparable OTC medicines. 

About the Survey
Nearly 1,000 men and women with high blood pressure, or who purchase OTC cough and cold medicine for someone with high blood pressure, and between the ages of 45-64 participated in the online survey conducted by Savitz Research Solutions on behalf of St. Joseph Health Products. The survey was conducted from May 19 – June 13, 2012 and assessed consumer awareness about cough and cold medicine considerations for people with high blood pressure.

About St. Joseph Health Products
Baltimore-based ILEX Consumer Products Group purchased the St. Joseph Aspirin 81mg brand in January 2011. Since then the company has expanded the St. Joseph brand to be an OTC heart healthy platform with a new 325mg aspirin product as well as a cough and cold product range for people with high blood pressure. These two new product lines will be available at major retailers nationally beginning in June and October 2012, respectively. ILEX Consumer Products Group is a subsidiary of a private investment holding company that also owns and manages health and beauty brands Calgon and The Healing Garden.

SOURCE St. Joseph Health Products