Effervescent painkillers taken by millions of people in Britain are a potential health risk due to their high salt content, UK researchers say.
Sodium levels in some medicines exceed the RDA
The report was published online on the BMJ website and focused on the research of 1.2 million UK patients. The study concluded that there was a link between taking soluble tablets and heart attacks and stroke.
The study authors also noted that some formulations of soluble medicines can contain more than the recommended daily sodium intake for an adult with the potential to cause serious health risks.
The data suggested that patients taking medicines with a high salt content were 20% more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or die from vascular disease than patients taking the same medicines without salt.
Patients were also seven times more likely to develop high blood pressure, which the study authors believe is the main cause of vascular problems from tablets high in salt. Other factors such as smoking, body mass index, alcohol consumption and a medical history were all taken into account.
The British Heart Foundation has commented on the findings and emphasises the importance of people on these medications to continue to take their medicines until further discussion with your doctor can be arranged.
Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, Dr Mike Knapton, said: “We know that too much salt is linked to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
“What is interesting about this study is the suggestion that some prescribed medicines containing sodium may also raise your cardiovascular risk.
“If you are currently prescribed drugs containing sodium, it’s important not to simply stop taking your dose – make an appointment with your doctor to discuss any concerns.”
Many soluble medicines contain a substance called bicarbonate which facilitates the fizzing and dissolving process. Bicarbonate is often combined with sodium.
Dr Jacob George, lead researcher from Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, said: “We know that high salt causes hypertension and that hypertension leads to stroke."
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