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Acetaminophen might worsen high blood pressure
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch
In the journals
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is often the pain reliever of choice for people with high blood pressure (hypertension) because most other options are types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), which can raise blood pressure. But a study in the Feb. 8, 2022, issue of Circulation suggests acetaminophen might have the same effect.
Researchers randomized 110 hypertension patients with no chronic pain to take either 1,000 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen or a placebo four times daily for two weeks. After allowing time for the drugs to leave their system, they took the other type of pill for another two weeks. Blood pressure was measured before and after each treatment period. The results showed that in people who used high-dose acetaminophen, systolic blood pressure (the top number) increased about five points more than those who took a placebo.
This doesn’t mean people with hypertension should never take acetaminophen for aches and pains. Yet, it’s best to use the lowest effective dose, and no more than two regular-strength (325-mg) tablets every six hours, or two extra-strength (500-mg) tablets every eight hours. If those who take acetaminophen regularly notice higher blood pressure readings, they should reduce their dosage or discuss with their doctor.
Image: © AMphotography/Getty Images
About the Author
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch
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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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Controlling Your Blood Pressure
An alarming one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Known medically as hypertension, many people don't even know they have it, because high blood pressure has no symptoms or warning signs. But when elevated blood pressure is accompanied by abnormal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to your arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially. Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and treat. In the Special Health Report, Controlling Your Blood Pressure, find out how to keep blood pressure in a healthy range simply by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing activity, and eating more healthfully.
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