Boston: Women who take the painkiller paracetamol, have higher blood pressure which may lead to stroke, according to new US research.
Although older women are more at risk, those suffering from arthritic pain are more likely to suffer, says the Nurses Health Study, which found women taking more than 500mg of paracetamol a day for five years were twice as likely to develop high blood pressure.
Those aged 50 and over were at slightly higher risk than those who were younger. Doctors say the findings may also apply to men.
Paracetamol is the world’s most widely-used painkiller. Most patients using it regularly take two 500mg tablets daily.
Dr John Philip Forman, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, said taking ibuprofen, another overthe- counter painkiller, also carried higher risks of hypertension.
He said: ‘In our study, women who took 500mg or more of paracetamol per day, on average, were about twice as likely to develop high blood pressure as women who did not use it.’
Dr Gary Williams, a rheumatologist from Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, said doctors were already under pressure to switch arthritic patients from prescription drugs called coxibs to safer alternatives to avoid possible heart problems.
But Dr Geoffrey Brandon, of the Paracetamol Information Centre, said that although the study showed an association between paracetamol and hypertension, there was no reason for women to stop taking the painkiller based on the findings. :