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Painkiller use may raise blood pressure in women

Linda Searing The Washington Post

Hypertension: Regular use of painkillers may raise blood pressure in women.

The question: Consider that nearly one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure and that painkillers are the medication taken most often by Americans. Might the two be connected?

This study analyzed data on 5,123 female nurses participating in two long-term studies on chronic diseases. None of the women had high blood pressure at the start of the study. In a three- to four-year period, those who regularly took more than 500 milligrams a day of acetaminophen were nearly twice as likely to develop high blood pressure as those who took none. Women who took more than 400 milligrams daily of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (mainly ibuprofen) had a 60 to 78 percent greater chance of developing high blood pressure than those who never took NSAIDs, with the likelihood increasing with age. Taking aspirin did not affect blood pressure readings.

Who may be affected by these findings? Women who take sizable doses of painkillers regularly.

Caveats: The findings were based on self-reporting of hypertension, but the authors considered the reports reliable because all participants were registered nurses. The study did not determine whether the risk of high blood pressure varied for ibuprofen, naproxen or other NSAIDs. The study considered participants’ family history, physical activity and use of such products as caffeine, alcohol and tobacco; whether participants’ health problems might have affected their blood pressure was unclear.

Find this study: Aug. 15 online issue of Hypertension; abstract available at www.hypertensionaha.org (click “Online first”).

Learn more about high blood pressure at www.americanheart.org and www.mayoclinic.com.

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