A study conducted by researchers found that the daily use of paracetamol raises blood pressure and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The researchers asked doctors to be careful before prescribing paracetamol to people at risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Experts from the University of Edinburgh conducted the study on 110 patients with a history of high blood pressure and placed them on, “one gram of paracetamol four times a day or a placebo for two weeks, before reversing the regime so the placebo group got paracetamol ,” The Telegraph UK reported.
Within four days, blood pressure had significantly increased in the group that was placed on paracetamol, increasing the chances of a heart attack or a stroke by 20 per cent.
Around one in 10 people in the UK are prescribed daily paracetamol for chronic pain, even as one in three adults suffers from high blood pressure.
Professor David Webb, chair of therapeutics and clinical pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, said, “We have always thought that paracetamol was the safe alternative if we were trying to advise patients to stop using drugs like ibuprofen, which are known to raise blood pressure . Consideration should be given to stopping using paracetamol in patients at risk of heart attack or stroke.”
“We would recommend that clinicians start with a low dose of paracetamol and increase the dose in stages, going no higher than needed to control pain. Given the substantial rises in blood pressure seen in some of our patients, there may be a benefit for clinicians to keep a closer eye on blood pressure in people with high blood pressure who newly start paracetamol for chronic pain,” he said.
Researchers said people who need paracetamol for chronic pain should use separate medication to keep their blood pressure under control.
Professor James Dear, personal chair of clinical pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Two weeks of treatment with paracetamol increases high blood pressure and this matters because we know high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.”
“High blood pressure is very common. One in three adults has hypertension and that increases with age, and we know that taking paracetamol is very common. A lot of patients who have hypertension are also taking paracetamol, so we suspect this paracetamol effect could have a large population effect.”
Dr Iain MacIntyre, consultant in clinical pharmacology and nephrology at NHS Lothian said people who take paracetamol occasionally do not need to worry. He said, “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. “