A new study has linked increase in heart diseases and stroke with regular use of paracetamol for a long time. The researcher advised that patients who are placed on long-term chronic pain treatment with the painkiller should use the lowest effective dose, while also targeting the shortest possible duration of treatment.
The large randomised clinical trial study carried out by the University of Edinburgh scholars is published on Circulation, the scientific journal of the American Heart Association (AHA).
In double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 110 high blood pressure patients received 1 gram of paracetamol four times a day (recommended dose for chronic pain) or a matched placebo for two weeks. A further two weeks of washout followed, before they gave the patients alternative treatment.
The individuals who received paracetamol experienced an increase in blood pressure when compared to those who receive placebo. The rise in blood pressure, according to the researcher, is like those of NSAID with a 20% increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Paracetamol is a safer painkiller compared to the other class of painkillers called the NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, aspirin increases blood pressure, and the risk of heart diseases. NSAIDs also reduce the effect of anti-hypertensive drugs.
Paracetamol is the world’s most used drug. The researchers assure that there is no cause for alarm if paracetamol is being used to treat short-term fever or headache. However, for long-term patients with the risk of cardiovascular disease or those with existing conditions. The lowest doses should be used and the blood pressure monitored on the course of the treatment.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, a Medical Director at The British Heart Foundation, funded the project and has Dr. Iain MacIntyre, a consultant of Clinical Pharmacology and Nephrology at NHS Lothian as the lead investigator. The Principal Investigator is Professor David Webb, the Chair of Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh.