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Multiple Medications and Driving: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

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A reader of Scientific American Consumer Health's Hypertension and Stroke White Paper asks, "I’m taking six different drugs to manage my blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Should I be concerned about driving?" Here's what you need to know.

Studies have linked multiple medication use to a higher rate of motor vehicle accidents. With some medicines, the driving risk is associated with a sedating effect—usually clearly marked on the bottle’s warning label.

ACE inhibitors, which may be prescribed for hypertension, and beta-blockers, which treat hypertension and irregular heartbeat, are examples. Medications with side effects such as anxiety, itchy eyes, blurred vision and headaches can also impair your ability to drive. But a driving warning may not be on the label.

People can react to drugs— and drugs can interact with each other—in unpredictable ways that may make driving unsafe. Therefore, it’s wise to take some time off before driving after you take your medication. How long you should wait before driving depends on which drugs you take, though one to two hours is a reasonable estimate.

Bottom line? Your best bet is to review your medications with your medical provider to obtain specific information about how the drugs are metabolized and whether they can adversely impact your driving. 


Posted in Hypertension and Stroke on March 23, 2016

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer

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