Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk
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Heart disease includes conditions that narrow or block blood vessels. This can lead to a heart attack, angina and some strokes. Heart disease also covers conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or cause abnormal rhythms. A popular medication taken by most has been shown to increase a person’s risk by 20 percent.
We have all been there, a slight headache arises, or we are feeling less than our healthy selves and so we pop a painkiller to help ease the pain.
No harm done, or is there?
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh have now found a link between taking paracetamol and an added risk of heart attack or strokes.
The researchers have recently made the startling discovery finding that simple paracetamol popping raises these potentially deadly conditions by about a fifth.
A first-of-its-kind trial found just four days of taking paracetamol causes a clinically significant hike in blood pressure.
The analysis determined about 4g a day, or eight standard tables could increase a person’s risk by 20 percent.
Their study, based on just 110 participants, only looked at those who were already suffering from high blood pressure.
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The two-week trial involved 110 patients with high blood pressure.
They were either given a placebo or 1g of paracetamol to take four times a day — a routine amount for people dealing with chronic pain.
After a two-to-three week break to wash out their systems, patients then swapped to either the placebo or paracetamol for another two weeks.
The researchers then compared the blood pressure changes for each patient.
On average, the participants’ systolic pressure – the pressure when your heart pushes blood out – increased by 4.7mmHg by the end of the two weeks when the participants were taking paracetamol.
Lead author Dr Iain MacIntyre, a pharmacologist from NHS Lothian, said: “This is not about short-term use of paracetamol for headaches or fever, which is, of course, fine.
“But it does indicate a newly discovered risk for people who take it regularly over the longer term, usually for chronic pain.”
Professor James Dear, another pharmacologist involved in the study, said: “This study clearly shows paracetamol – the world’s most used drug – increases blood pressure, one of the most important risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.
“Doctors and patients together should consider the risks versus the benefits of long-term prescription, especially in patients at risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Signs of heart disease include:
- Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and chest discomfort (angina)
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back.
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