Approximately half of all US adults have hypertension (HTN), yet less than one-third (~30%) of more than 3000 surveyed in a new poll reported discussing with their clinician the adverse effects some over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can have on their blood pressure (BP).
The findings are from an online omnibus study conducted by the research firm Big Village on behalf of the American Heart Association (AHA).
According to the AHA, OTC pain medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can increase BP, which is why it is important for patients, especially those diagnosed with HTN, to consult with a health care professional (eg, clinician, nurse, or pharmacist) and to read the drug label carefully before taking any nonprescription analgesic.
“It’s paramount that people who have high blood pressure, or are at risk for it, understand the effects associated with some over-the-counter pain relievers,” said Mitchell Elkind, MD, MS, chief clinical science officer, AHA, tenured professor of neurology and epidemiology, Columbia University, in theassociation’s November 1, 2023, press release. “A conversation with a health care professional about pain relief options is essential to preventing and managing high blood pressure.”
To examine the use of OTC pain relievers among US adults, the AHA-commissioned study surveyed 3045 US adults aged ≥18 years from July 7-15, 2023. The poll was implemented 3-times a week and completed interviews were weighted by 5 variables: age, sex, geographic region, race, and education to “ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population,” wrote the AHA.
Among the cohort, results showed that almost 50% of participants reported taking pain medication once a week or more, however, 61% had not discussed the effects some OTC pain relivers may have on BP with their clinician.
Moreover, 22% of respondents said they would research an alternative pain reliever online, second only to speaking with a health care professional, according to the AHA release.
Data also showed ethnic and generational disparities over the use of OTC pain medication:
- Of participants who were diagnosed with HTN, White and Asian adults (40%) were less likely than Black (54.2%) adults and Hispanic (54.1%) adults to have ever discussed the effect some pain relievers have on BP with a health care professional.
- Persons born between 1965 and 1980 (Gen X) were significantly more likely than other generations to take OTC pain relievers several times a day, yet approximately 41% said they would initially ask a health care professional for alternative pain relief if they knew certain OTC pain medications could increase BP.
- Persons born between 1997 and 2012 (Gen Z) were less likely (30.5%) than any other generation to initially ask a health care professional for alternative pain relief even if they knew certain OTC pain medications could increase BP.
“Some over-the-counter pain relievers are safer than others,” stated Elkind. “A conversation with a health care professional regularly about medications you or a loved one takes is an important step in finding safe options and controlling blood pressure.”
Source: Only 30% of adults discuss pain relievers with doctors despite risk of raising blood pressure. News release. American Heart Association. November 1, 2023. Accessed November 2, 2023. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/only-30-of-adults-discuss-pain-relievers-with-doctors-despite-risk-of-raising-blood-pressure