Common painkiller linked to blood pressure drop in hospitals

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Blood pressure, a crucial health indicator, consists of two numbers: systolic (pressure during heartbeats) and diastolic (pressure between heartbeats).

A recent study from the University of Copenhagen has revealed a surprising side effect of a commonly used painkiller, acetaminophen, especially when administered in hospitals.

Acetaminophen, widely known for treating headaches, is typically taken orally. However, in hospitals, it’s often given intravenously (through the veins) to help patients who can’t swallow pills.

This method is quite common for helping critically ill patients. But, the study found that this way of giving acetaminophen can cause a significant, temporary drop in blood pressure.

This side effect is concerning, particularly in critically ill patients. The study discovered that about six out of every ten such patients experienced this drop in blood pressure, with a third of them needing medical help to manage it.

The researchers delved into why this happens with intravenous acetaminophen. They found that when given this way, acetaminophen bypasses the liver and is metabolized differently than when taken by mouth.

This different processing leads to the production of chemicals that can affect blood pressure. These chemicals seem to influence potassium channels, which are important for how blood vessels work and control blood pressure.

In their experiments with rats, the researchers tried using drugs that specifically block these potassium channels. They found that this could reduce the problem of blood pressure dropping.

Despite these findings, acetaminophen is still considered a relatively safe drug and is widely used in healthcare. Doctors and nurses often know about this side effect but still choose to use the drug because of its benefits.

The research team emphasizes that most people don’t need to worry about taking acetaminophen as usual, as long as they don’t exceed the recommended dose. It’s mainly an issue in hospital settings where the drug is given intravenously.

This study, led by Thomas Qvistgaard Jepps and published in Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, highlights an important aspect of medicine: sometimes the way a drug is given can make a big difference in its effects.

Understanding these differences is key to providing the best care, especially for critically ill patients.

For anyone concerned about blood pressure or considering painkillers, this study underlines the importance of staying within recommended doses and being aware of how different methods of administering drugs can have varying effects on the body.

If you care about pain, please read studies about vitamin K deficiency linked to hip fractures in old people, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people, and eating yogurt linked to lower frailty in older people.

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