Harvard Heart Letter

Acetaminophen seems safe for the heart

After a small study hinted that taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) might increase blood pressure, some doctors worried that this popular painkiller might not be as safe as once assumed, particularly for people with heart disease. But those fears now appear unfounded, according to a March 2015 report in Hypertension.

Using records from a U.K. health database, researchers identified nearly 25,000 people ages 65 and older with high blood pressure. They then compared people who took acetaminophen with people who didn't take the drug over a 10-year period. After adjusting for possible confounding factors, they found no elevated risk of heart attack, stroke, or any cardiovascular events among people who used acetaminophen—even among those who took the painkiller frequently. Despite this reassurance, be aware that high doses of acetaminophen can damage your liver. Don't take more than 3,000 milligrams (mg) a day. Over-the-counter pills (including some cold and flu drugs) may contain up to 650 mg of the drug, so check labels carefully. 

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