(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Common pain relievers may increase the risk of high blood pressure in men.
Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin are among the most commonly used drugs in the United States. Two recent large studies have suggested a link between pain relievers and an increased risk of high blood pressure in women. But the association has not been studied extensively in men.
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston followed 16,031 male health professionals who did not have a history of high blood pressure (hypertension). The average age of participants was about 65.
In four years, 1,968 men developed hypertension. Men who took acetaminophen six or seven days a week had a 34-percent higher risk of hypertension than those who did not take pain relievers. Those who took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, which include ibuprofen and naproxen) six or seven days a week had a 38-percent higher risk, and those who took aspirin six or seven days a week had a 26-percent higher risk.
Researchers also looked at the total number of pain-relievers men took each week, regardless of the type. Results show men who took 15 or more pills each week had a 48-percent higher risk of hypertension than those who took no pills.
The authors write all three types of pain relievers may stop the effects of chemicals that relax the blood vessels and decrease blood pressure. Acetaminophen may also damage blood vessel linings and harm cell functioning.
"These data add further support to the hypothesis that non-narcotic analgesics independently elevate the risk of hypertension," write study authors. "Given their common consumption and the high prevalence of hypertension, our results may have substantial public health implications and suggest that these agents be used with greater caution."
SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007;167:394-399
via Ivanhoe Newswire