When it comes to controlling high blood pressure, doctors consider a popular medication to be effective. They say it helps lower blood pressure, prevents strokes and is very affordable. Now that popular blood pressure medication is coming with a warning.
Ben Wilson Jr. is doing the right thing when it comes to controlling his high blood pressure. Every day he takes a pill to protect him from a stroke or heart attack caused by this silent killer. In the last several years, his dermatologist discovered he had skin cancer. His leg and back bear the scars where they were removed. Now his dermatologist, LSU Health's Dr. Elizabeth Grieshaber wants him to do something else.
"I would recommend talking to your primary care (doctor) to ask them if there are any other options they think would be adequate to control their blood pressure," said Dr. Grieshaber.
That's because the blood pressure medication Ben has been taking for years, hydrochlorothiazide, brand name Microzide, increases your your sensitivity to the sun's radiation. A new study has found that users on it for six or more years, have a much higher risk of getting skin cancer, both squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas.
"I've been pretty cautious about the sun. Ever since I became more conscious about my skin, I have my skin checked probably every six months or a year," said Wilson.
That's a good thing because caught early, it's more treatable. What you will have on your skin, is not necessarily the obvious, dark, odd-shaped mole. These can be little scaly bumps like a wart that peel and grow fast, or painful bumps that bleed easily.
"I've had acquaintances who've had serious cases, much more serious than mine, and I know it's something to dread. And I know how bad it can get," said Wilson.
Along with regular skin checks, sunscreen is a must.
"Sun protection should be worn every day, even when it's cloudy. Even when you're not, even when you don't go outside. UVA penetrates window glass. It comes from lights and so you really do need to protect your skin all of the time," said Dr. Grieshaber.
Doctors say it is very important that you never stop taking your medication for high blood pressure, even if you are concerned about skin cancer or other sexual side effects. Talk to your doctor about any concerns so the best medication can be prescribed for you.