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Blood pressure risk for regular paracetamol users

Wednesday February 9th 2022

There may be a link between long-term use of paracetamol and heart disease among those with hypertension, Scottish researchers have reported.

Paracetamol is a very commonly used first-line treatment for chronic pain. It has long been considered safe for most people and preferable to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as it does not impact blood pressure.

However, Dr Iain MacIntyre of NHS Lothian and colleagues investigated a possible link due to observational evidence and a lack of confirmatory clinical trials.

They carried out a trial in which 103 men and women with hypertension were randomly selected to receive either 1g of paracetamol four times a day or placebo, for a fortnight, and then switched to the other group after a gap of time.

Results showed that regular paracetamol led to a significant increase in average daytime systolic and diastolic blood pressure of around 5mm Hg.

Details appeared on Monday in *Circulation*. The authors warn: "This increases cardiovascular risk and calls into question the safety of regular acetaminophen use in this situation."

Dr MacIntyre stated: “This is not about short-term use of paracetamol for headaches or fever, which is, of course, fine - but it does indicate a newly discovered risk for people who take it regularly over the longer term, usually for chronic pain.”

Co-author Professor James Dear, of the University of Edinburgh, commented: “This study clearly shows that paracetamol - the world’s most used drug - increases blood pressure, one of the most important risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.

"Doctors and patients together should consider the risks versus the benefits of long-term paracetamol prescription, especially in patients at risk of cardiovascular disease.”

MacIntyre, I. M. et al. Regular Acetaminophen Use and Blood Pressure in People With Hypertension: The PATH-BP Trial. *Circulation* 7 February 2022; doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.056015

[abstract]

Tags: Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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