Stroke risk with use of common medicines

People who use medications containing phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, may be at higher risk for stroke, the Food and Drug Administration said recently. PPA is an ingredient in many over-the-counter cough and cold remedies made by Alka-Seltzer, Comtrex, Contac, Dimetapp, Robitussin, Tavist-D and Triaminic among others. It is also a key ingredient in appetite suppressants Acutrim and Dexatrim.

Yale University School of Medicine researchers found an association between PPA use and stroke in women. The increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke was detected among women using the drug for weight control, and for nasal decongestion, in the three days after starting use of the medication. Men may also be at risk. The study concluded that PPA is not safe for continued use.            

The University of Alaska Anchorage Student Health Center has joined other health care providers by recommending discontinued use of PPA. You are advised to read the labels of your over-the-counter medications prior to using them.

You can access additional information on the FDA Web page at