Painkiller link to stroke, say US researchers

Boston: Paracetamol, the world’s most popular painkiller, can make some women vulnerable to strokes, US doctors have discovered.

Those who take paracetamol regular double the risk of developing high blood pressure, making them vulnerable to strokes, according to research carried out by
the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. They also discovered that ibuprofen, another over-the- counter painkiller, also carried higher risks of hypertension.

The study, published in the journal Hypertension, shows that women of all ages are at risk. But older women who may be using the over-the-counter medicine to help relieve arthritic pain are most susceptible.

The findings pose a dilemma for arthritis sufferers, many of whom have been told to switch to over-the-counter medicines because of fears of heart problems linked to some prescription drugs. Most patients using it regularly take two 500mg tablets daily.

Although the study only involved women, experts believe the findings may also apply to men.

But Dr Geoffrey Brandon, of the Paracetamol Information Centre, warned that there was no reason for women to stop taking paracetamol based on the findings because the study did not demonstrate cause and effect.