News in brief: Paracetamol can raise systolic blood pressure; Cardiovascular risk increases after COVID-19; Patient satisfaction remains high for hospital doctors

Paracetamol can raise systolic blood pressure

Doctors and patients should reconsider the risk-benefit ratio of long-term paracetamol for chronic pain relief given new UK research which finds it increases blood pressure.

The PATH-BP study compared 24-hour ambulatory blood pressures in 110 people on 4 mg daily paracetamol for two weeks and when crossed over to a fortnight on placebo. The participants had a history of high blood pressure.

The University of Edinburgh study found a placebo-corrected increase of 4.7 mm Hg in daytime systolic BP on paracetamol and 1.6 mm Hg in diastolic BP.

The researchers said the almost 5 mm Hg increase in systolic pressure increases cardiovascular risk.

“This is not about short-term use of paracetamol for headaches or fever, which is, of course, fine – but it does indicate a newly discovered risk for people who take it regularly over the longer term, usually for chronic pain,“ lead investigator Dr Iain MacIntyre said.

Read more in Circulation

Cardiovascular risk increases after COVID-19

People who have had COVID-19 are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular complications within the first month to a year after infection.

A large US veterans data set compared cardiovascular outcomes in 153,760 people post-COVID with more than 11 million contemporary and historical controls.

It found COVID-19 was associated with an excess of cardiovascular complications including dysrhythmias, inflammatory heart disease, thromboembolic disease, stroke, coronary artery disease, ischaemic heart disease and heart failure.

The risk was highest after severe COVID-19 but still apparent among previously healthy individuals and those who had mild COVID-19 infections.

“Our study shows that the risk of incident cardiovascular disease extends well beyond the acute phase of COVID-19,” the researchers said.

“Care pathways of people who survived the acute episode of COVID-19 should include attention to cardiovascular health and disease”

They also said the best way to prevent “long COVID and its myriad complications” including serious cardiovascular sequelae was to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first place.

Read more in Nature Medicine

Patient satisfaction remains high for hospital doctors

Patients’ satisfaction with the way they are treated by hospital doctors or specialists has remained during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest figures.

The 2022 Report on Government Services for public hospitals covering the period 2020-2021 shows that nationally, 91.8% of patients reported that doctors “always or often listened carefully to them and 93.2% always or often showed respect to them. Likewise, 90.3% of patients said doctors spent enough time with them.

The figures for 2020-21 were not significantly different from previous years.

However the report also showed that elective surgery waiting times increased significantly for public hospitals in 2020-21. Nationally, 50% cent of patients were admitted within 48 days (up from 39 days in 2019-20) and 90% of patients were admitted within 348 days (up from 281 days in 2019-20).

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