August 16, 2005
Women taking daily amounts of non-aspirin painkillers may want to see a doctor. A new study out of Harvard Medical School shows that women who take at least one extra strength Tylenol per day could be at risk for hypertension.
Doctors are now warning these women to start checking for high blood pressure, as they are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure. Simply because a medicine is over-the-counter does not mean it is safe.
Painkillers like Tylenol, Advil and aspirin relieve headaches and minor aches and pains, but these painkillers aren't as safe as doctors once thought.
"Tylenol does raise blood pressure in women," said Dearing Ward Johns, a UVa Cardiologist.
Women that take at least one extra strength Tylenol per day are twice as likely to develop hypertension.
While many over-the-counter painkillers have been linked to high blood pressure before, Acetaminophen, which is sold as Tylenol, has generally been considered relatively risk free. However, as the study shows, it only took one extra strength Tylenol or any type of Acetaminophen pill a day to cause women's blood pressure to rise.
"If you are a women using Tylenol or Acetaminophen in doses greater than 500mg a day, you should keep in touch with your doctor, especially if your using it for a prolonged period of time," said Johns.
What about Ibuprofen such as Advil? If taken once a day it is less likely than Tylenol to cause high blood pressure; however, if taken in large doses it has the same effect.
What do doctors recommend you take for pain relief? While research has found that aspirin is still the safest medicine, every medication has some side effects.
"None of these agents should be used in doses greater than two extra strength pills a day for longer than a week," said Johns.
Doctors say that whichever pain reliever works for you, that is the one that you should use--just be sure that your physician knows you are using it. The Harvard study was conducted by over 5,000 nurses from their medical school.