Common pain relievers can harm your blood pressure health, study finds

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A recent online poll commissioned by the American Heart Association reveals that only about 30% of U.S. adults have discussed the potential adverse effects of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers on blood pressure with their healthcare professional.

Elevated blood pressure is a significant health concern, affecting more than half of all adults in the United States, and is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

Blood Pressure and OTC Pain Relievers

The American Heart Association’s most recent Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure highlights that certain OTC pain relievers may raise blood pressure.

This underscores the importance of consulting with healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, or pharmacists, and carefully reading labels before using any OTC pain medication, especially for individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Dr. Mitchell S. V. Elkind, Chief Clinical Science Officer of the American Heart Association and a professor at Columbia University, emphasizes the significance of understanding the effects of some OTC pain relievers for those with high blood pressure or those at risk.

He underscores the importance of conversations with healthcare professionals to prevent and manage high blood pressure effectively.

Prevalence of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is prevalent, affecting nearly half of all individuals in the United States.

The survey revealed disparities among racial and ethnic groups, with white and Asian adults being significantly less likely (40%) than Black (54.2%) and Hispanic (54.1%) adults to have discussed the potential impact of OTC pain relievers on blood pressure with a healthcare professional.

Dr. Elkind adds that not all OTC pain relievers are created equal, making it essential to regularly consult with healthcare professionals regarding medication choices for effective blood pressure control.

OTC Pain Reliever Usage Patterns

The poll, conducted by Big Village, surveyed nearly 3,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, shedding light on OTC pain reliever usage patterns:

Close to 50% of respondents took pain medication once a week or more, with adults aged 45-54 being the most frequent users.

Generation X (born from 1965 to 1980) was significantly more likely to use OTC pain relievers multiple times a day, but only 41% of this group would initially seek alternative pain relief, even if aware of the potential blood pressure increase.

Generation Z (born from 1997 to 2012) was significantly less likely (30.5%) than any other generation to initially consult a healthcare professional for alternative pain relief if aware of the blood pressure risk.

Approximately 61% of all respondents had not discussed the potential blood pressure effects of OTC pain relievers with a healthcare professional.

About 22% of respondents would turn to online research for alternative pain relievers, the second most common approach after consulting a healthcare professional.

A recommended strategy for managing high blood pressure, defined as a consistent reading of 130 over 80 mm Hg or higher, is regular at-home blood pressure monitoring using validated devices and collaborating with healthcare professionals to develop a tailored management plan.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about unhealthy habits that could increase high blood pressure risk, and people with severe high blood pressure should reduce coffee intake.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies that early time-restricted eating could help improve blood pressure, and results showing plant-based foods could benefit people with high blood pressure.

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