Long-term use of common painkiller may affect heart health

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A study led by scientists from the University of Edinburgh delves into the cardiovascular risks associated with long-term paracetamol use, particularly for individuals with high blood pressure.

Published in Circulation, this study underscores the need for caution in prescribing paracetamol for chronic pain management.

Paracetamol vs. NSAIDs: A Reevaluation

Paracetamol is often recommended over non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) due to the latter’s known risks of increasing blood pressure and heart disease.

The research aimed to assess the impact of long-term paracetamol usage on heart health, especially in people with hypertension.

The research involved 110 patients with a history of high blood pressure. were given either a standard dose of paracetamol (1 gram, four times a day) or a placebo for two weeks.

Those taking paracetamol experienced a significant increase in blood pressure compared to the placebo group.

The rise in blood pressure was comparable to that observed with NSAIDs, potentially elevating the risk of heart disease or stroke by about 20%.

Implications for Patients and Healthcare Providers

The study highlights the necessity of reevaluating long-term paracetamol prescriptions, particularly for patients with high blood pressure or at risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Doctors and patients should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of extended paracetamol use, especially in those at risk of heart conditions.

Opting for the lowest effective dose of paracetamol for the shortest duration is recommended to mitigate potential risks.

Broader Impact on Pain Management

This research prompts a reassessment of commonly used pain management drugs and their long-term impacts on cardiovascular health.

It emphasizes the importance of personalized medicine, where treatment plans are tailored to individual patient risks and health profiles.

In summary, the University of Edinburgh’s study provides critical insights into the cardiovascular implications of long-term paracetamol use, especially for those with high blood pressure.

It calls for a careful review of prescribing practices and advocates for a more nuanced approach to managing chronic pain in patients at risk of heart disease and stroke.

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