A frequent use of pain-relief medications such as ibuprofen (as
found in Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) may result in an increased-risk
of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, in women, a
recent study shows.
The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may block the
production of prostaglandins, which are known to dilate blood vessels.
When fewer prostaglandins are present, blood vessels may narrow,
which could lead to hypertension.
The study followed more than 80,000 women between the ages of 31
and 50 years who were initially hypertension-free. Frequency of
use (in days per month) of aspirin, NSAIDs, and acetaminophen was
recorded and compared with the number of cases of physician-diagnosed
hypertension two years later. Of women who used NSAIDs 22 days or
more per month, the risk of high-blood pressure increased some 86
Additionally, women who used acetaminophen 22 days or more per
month were almost twice as likely to have high-blood pressure as
those who did not.
When researchers removed other factors that could lead to hypertension,
such as obesity, from the equation, the increased-risk remained.
The study did note the possibility that an unidentified factor may
be contributing to the risk, therefore a cause and effect relationship
could not be determined.
Nonetheless, it was concluded that a large portion of U.S. hypertension
cases may be the result of over-using these pain medications.
While those who frequently used NSAIDS or acetaminophen did show
an increased risk of hypertension, there was no increased-risk associated
with aspirin users.
Archives of Internal Medicine.
October 28, 2002;162:2204-2208