Acetaminophen Can Increase Blood Pressure, Cautions the Harvard Heart Letter

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, generic) has long been promoted as a safer alternative to aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen for people with cardiovascular disease. New research suggests this may not be true.

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Boston, MA (Vocus/PRWEB) February 03, 2011

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, generic) has long been promoted as a safer alternative to aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, generic) for people with cardiovascular disease who need relief from aches and pains. A small but important Swiss trial warns that it may not be, reports the February 2011 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter. These new results don't mean you should ditch acetaminophen if it helps you, but they do suggest you should give it the caution that it—and every medication—deserves.

The Swiss researchers asked 33 men and women with coronary artery disease—including angina (chest pain with exercise or stress), previous bypass surgery or angioplasty, or a diagnosis of cholesterol-clogged arteries—to take either 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen or a placebo three times a day for two weeks. The amount of acetaminophen used in the study is a standard daily dose for pain. Average blood pressure rose when the participants took acetaminophen, but stayed steady when they took the placebo.

Acetaminophen is easier on the stomach than aspirin and other NSAIDs. Because it is so widely used and perceived as safe, people tend to take it without thinking. But it has side effects, too. In fact, acetaminophen is a leading cause of liver failure and transplantation in the United States.

If you have some form of cardiovascular disease, it makes sense to take acetaminophen rather than an NSAID for a fever, headache, pulled muscle, or other occasional problem. But if you need relief every day for pain from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, acetaminophen may not be the best option—it doesn't work that well against inflammatory pain, and it can elevate blood pressure.

Read full-length article: ["Acetaminophen may boost blood pressure"

Also in this issue:

  •     Magnesium and the heart
  •     Protecting your heart during dental work
  •     Coping with shortness of breath
  •     Taking the myth out of chocolate and the heart
  •     Psyllium to lower cholesterol

The Harvard Heart Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications (http://www.health.harvard.edu), the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $28 per year. Subscribe at [health.harvard.edu/heart or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

Media: Contact Raquel Schott at Raquel_Schott(at)hms(dot)harvard(dot)edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.

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