Headaches are one of the common pains we get. High blood pressure is also very common, affecting about 60 million Canadians. Could they be linked? Yes, but not in the way you may think. Some doctors question a whether the cause of a headache can be corrected by taking pain pills. But there are also other, more seemingly silent concerns. Is simply cutting the fire alarm when the house is on fire ever a good idea? If your headache is coming from a problem such as a sprained and subluxated neck, is taking a pill going to do anything to help the joint injury?
We all see the TV commercials and the long pill aisles at the grocery store. We must be consuming quite a bit and could are excessive use of these drugs be causing another problem, one that may not be explained on the pill bottle label?
Researchers have looked at over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) and ibuprofen (e.g. Advil), to see if taking them over the long-term elevates the risk for developing high blood pressure (Hypertension 2005;46:500. Women's Health Study I and II) The study investigated 5,123 women between the ages of 34 and 77 and followed them over many years.
The relative risk for those who took >500 mg per day, compared with women who did not use acetaminophen, was 1.93 (1.30 to 2.88) among older women. and 1.99 (1.39 to 2.85) among younger women. A relative risk of 1.93 is a 93% increase in risk. The range was a 30% increase to a 185% increase.
The risk of developing high blood pressure in older women who took nonsteroidal anti-inflammartory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen) also increased, ranging from a 78% to a 161% elevation. For younger women, the increased risks ranged from a 10% increase to a 132% increase.
Aspirin use was not associated with developing high blood pressure. The authors concluded that because acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used, they might contribute to the high prevalence (percent of the population with this disease) of high blood pressure in the United States.
If you'd like to learn more about how chiropractic care may be an appropriate non-drug alternative form of health care, without the long-term side effects seen with some medications, just call for a complementary consultation. Dr. Birk can be reached at 905-264-9355 to make an appointment.