How did the researchers gather their findings?
Researchers, led by Professor Chao Zeng from Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China, analysed data from the UK’s Health Improvement Network, which is an electronic medical database of GPs records for approximately 17 million people.
They looked at 4,532 patients with high blood pressure who had been prescribed sodium-containing paracetamol and compared them with 146,866 patients with high blood pressure who had been prescribed paracetamol without sodium.
They also compared 5,351 patients without high blood pressure who were prescribed sodium-containing paracetamol with 141,948 patients without high blood pressure prescribed non-sodium-containing paracetamol. The patients were aged 60-90 years and the researchers followed them up for a year.
It’s important to stress that moderate use does not precipitate these harmful outcomes and the study did not reveal just how much salt users were already consuming.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said in response to the findings: “Eating too much salt can increase blood pressure. Cutting down on salt in our diets is an important way we can help to keep our blood pressure under control and reduce our risk of having a heart attack or stroke. However, this large analysis suggests that people who take some types of paracetamol may have inadvertently been consuming too much sodium, one of the main components of salt.