Taking paracetamol can sometimes be a quick fix for common pains in our body, from headaches to dreaded toothaches.

But scientists have issued a serious health warning to people who have high blood pressure and take the painkillers regularly.

This is because a study conducted in 2022 by the University of Edinburgh found that long-term paracetamol use could increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.

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The research which was published in the scientific journal Circulation, analysed 110 patients with a history of high blood pressure who were prescribed one gram of paracetamol four times a day – a routinely prescribed dose in patients with chronic pain, or a matched placebo for two weeks, according to The University of Edinburgh website.

It added: “All patients received both treatments, with the order randomised and blinded.

“Those prescribed paracetamol saw a significant increase in their blood pressure, compared with those taking the placebo.

“This rise was similar to that seen with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and might be expected to increase the risk of heart disease or stroke by around 20%, experts say.

“The research team says the findings should lead to a review of long-term paracetamol prescriptions to patients – particularly those with high blood pressure, or those at particular risk of heart disease or stroke.”

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Professor James Dear, personal chairman of clinical pharmacology at the university, commented: "This study clearly shows that paracetamol - the world's most used drug - increases blood pressure, one of the most important risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.

"Doctors and patients together should consider the risks versus the benefits of long-term paracetamol prescription, especially in patients at risk of cardiovascular disease.

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“In summary, we've shown that two weeks of treatment with paracetamol increases blood pressure in patients who have hypertension (high blood pressure)."

Professor David Webb, principal investigator and chair of therapeutics and clinical pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh advised clinicians “start with a low dose of paracetamol, and increase the dose in stages, going no higher than needed to control pain.”

He added: “Given the substantial rises in blood pressure seen in some of our patients, there may be a benefit for clinicians to keep a closer eye on blood pressure in people with high blood pressure who newly start paracetamol for chronic pain.”