Analgesic use not linked with high blood pressure

Contrary to the results of previously reported studies, the regular use of analgesic drugs by apparently healthy men does not appear to increase the risk of developing High Blood Pressure, according to a new study.

The association between analgesics and increased blood pressure may be more complicated than previously thought, said lead investigator Dr. Tobias Kurth of Harvard Medical School. Previous studies have suggested that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but not Aspirin, might increase blood pressure.

The researchers used data from the Physicians’ Health Study to investigate whether reported analgesic use influenced the risk of developing high blood pressure in 8,229 apparently healthy male physicians.

Over a follow-up period of almost six years, 2,234 men (27.2 percent) developed high blood pressure.

Initial analysis of the data, accounting for differences in age, indicated a significant association between cumulative analgesic use and the risk of subsequent high blood pressure, the researchers report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Hypertension means high blood pressure. This generally means:

  • Systolic blood pressure is consistently over 140 (systolic is the “top” number of your blood pressure measurement, which represents the pressure generated when the heart beats)  
  • Diastolic blood pressure is consistently over 90 (diastolic is the “bottom” number of your blood pressure measurement, which represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart is at rest)

Either or both of these numbers may be too high

However, after accounting for other potential contributing factors for high blood pressure, the association was no longer statistically significant. The investigators also observed no difference in risk between subjects who took the highest quantity of analgesics and those who took the lowest amount.

While no specific analgesic drug had a statistically significant association with high blood pressure, for acetaminophen, there was “the possibility of a small-to-moderate increase,” the researchers pointed out.

The authors conclude that in healthy men, analgesic use is not likely to increase the risk of high blood pressure, although a small to moderately increased risk cannot be completely ruled out.

SOURCE: Archive of Internal Medicine, September 12, 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD