Blood pressure, an essential health indicator, consists of two numbers: systolic and diastolic.
Systolic pressure occurs when the heart’s ventricles pump blood out, while diastolic pressure happens between heartbeats as the heart fills with blood. Managing these numbers is crucial for cardiovascular health.
A surprising finding from the University of Copenhagen has revealed a potential issue with acetaminophen, a common painkiller used for headaches.
While acetaminophen is usually taken orally, hospitals often administer it intravenously (IV) to help critically ill patients who can’t swallow pills.
This study discovered a serious side effect of IV acetaminophen: a temporary but significant drop in blood pressure.
The researchers noted that six out of 10 critically ill patients experienced this side effect, with a third needing medical intervention.
Despite its widespread use and general stability, the potential for a steep drop in blood pressure from IV acetaminophen has raised concerns.
To understand this phenomenon, the scientists delved into how acetaminophen is metabolized differently when administered intravenously compared to oral ingestion.
When taken orally, acetaminophen passes through the liver for metabolism. However, IV administration bypasses this process, leading to different metabolic pathways elsewhere in the body.
The study found that the byproducts of IV acetaminophen affect certain potassium channels. These channels play a key role in regulating blood vessel contraction and relaxation, thus influencing blood pressure.
In experimental tests on rats, using drugs that block these potassium channels mitigated the side effect of the blood pressure drop.
This discovery is significant as it offers a potential solution to this unintended consequence of IV acetaminophen use.
Despite these findings, the researchers emphasize that most people can safely use acetaminophen within the recommended dosage limits.
The study is particularly relevant for understanding the effects of medications in critically ill patients and the importance of closely monitoring blood pressure in these situations.
This research, conducted by Thomas Qvistgaard Jepps and colleagues, is published in Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.
If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about unhealthy habits that may increase high blood pressure risk, and drinking green tea could help lower blood pressure.
For more information about high blood pressure, please see recent studies about what to eat or to avoid for high blood pressure, and 12 foods that lower blood pressure.
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