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Soluble painkillers could increase risk of heart attack and stroke

The maximum dosage for some effervescent or soluble painkillers had sodium content far exceeding the recommended daily consumption.

By Ananth Baliga

Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Soluble and effervescent painkillers have been shown to increase risk of heart attacks and stroke, due to high salt content.

These medicines, taken at their highest dosage, have enough salt to fulfill a person's daily requirements.

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Compared to patients taking the same painkillers without the salt, those who took these effervescent or soluble medication showed an increased risk for heart attack, stroke or dying from a vascular cause by 20 percent.The same patients were seven time more likely to develop high blood pressure.

The study, which is published in the British Medical Journal, looked at theses effects on 1.2 million British patients. The study found that the mean sodium content in such drugs was 106.8 mmol/day, whereas the recommended dietary intake was 104 mmol/day. I mmol is equal to 23mg of sodium.

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The study looked at 24 different prescribed effervescent medicines, including common painkillers such as paracetamol and aspirin, as well as supplements. While some pills were as low as 3 mmol of sodium, some were as high as 18 mmol.

According to the study, if a person took the maximum dosage for paracetamol, eight pills, they would ingest 148.8 mmol of sodium, far more than the daily recommendation.

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"Without clear labelling on these products, it is impossible to know how much additional sodium you would be eating, so it is shocking to find you could be having more than your daily maximum from medicines alone," said Prof Gareth Breevers, of Blood Pressure UK.

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Medicines in Britain with at least 1 mmol of sodium in each dose are required to declare on their labelling that the product contains sodium.

[British Medical Journal] [BBC]

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