Painkillers linked to high blood pressure

U.S. reserchers find that women who take higher doses of common, over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and even Tylenol have higher blood pressure than women who do not.

The study, which looked at the medical records of 5,123 women - ages 34 to 77 - for up to eight years, found that those who took 500 milligrams or more of acetaminophen daily were twice as likely to develop high blood pressure as women who did not take the drug. None of the women, who participated in the Nurses Health Study at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, had had high blood pressure when the study began, AP informs.

Older women, ages 51 to 77, who took an average daily dose of more than 400 milligrams of ibuprofen a day were 78% more likely to develop high blood pressure than older women who did not take the drug. And younger women, ages 34 to 53, who took those daily doses were 60% more likely to develop high blood pressure, according to the study published in today's issue of Hypertension.

Acetaminophen is available in a generic form and in Tylenol. Also sold as a generic, ibuprofen is in Advil and Motrin.

The researchers did not find that aspirin increased women's chnces of developing high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

Ibuprofen and acetaminophen "are used so frequently and so widely that they could be one reason why the incidence of high blood pressure is so high," said Dr. Gary C. Curhan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a member of the research team.

The Harvard group has reported similar findings in the past. But this study was different, because the participants were asked why they were taking the painkillers, Curhan said.

Though the new research involved only women, "we don't have any expectations that it will be different for men," Curhan said.

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