Frequent Analgesic Use Linked to Hypertension Risk

Risk of high blood pressure up 38 percent in males taking NSAIDs six to seven times per week

MONDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Frequent use of analgesics, including aspirin, acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, according to a report published Feb. 26 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

John Forman, M.Sc., M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues studied the effects of aspirin, acetaminophen and NSAIDs on the rate of hypertension among 16,031 male health professionals from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Data were collected using biennial questionnaires over four years. None of the study participants had a history of hypertension at baseline.

Study subjects reported 1,968 new diagnoses of hypertension during the study period. Compared to subjects taking no analgesics, patients taking NSAIDs six to seven times per week had a multivariate-adjusted relative risk of 1.38. The relative risk for acetaminophen was 1.34 and for aspirin was 1.26. Controlling for baseline blood pressure values did not change the risk. Obesity affected the risk of hypertension among those using acetaminophen and NSAIDs, but not aspirin. The link between acetaminophen use and hypertension was greatest among individuals with a body mass index (BMI) below 25; the association between NSAID use and hypertension was greatest with BMI above 25. Age had no statistically significant effect on risk.

"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," the authors conclude.

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