Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 30th 2013 Contents more likely to develop high blood pressure, and
their overall death rate was 28 per cent higher.
The researchers acknowledged that there is still
some controversy about the link between dietary
sodium and heart risks, but say their findings
were anyway "potentially of public health impor-
body & soul
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The high salt content
of basic medicines
such as soluble aspirin
or paracetamol is
putting millions of
people's health at risk,
Millions of patients worldwide taking efferves-
cent, dispersible and soluble medicines have an
increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
because of the high salt content of such drugs,
scientists said on Wednesday.
Researchers from Britain s University of Dundee
and University College London found that with
some "fizzy" versions of painkillers, vitamin sup-
plements or other common medicines, taking the
maximum daily dose would on its own exceed
daily recommended limits for sodium, the main
component of salt.
High salt intake has been linked to high blood
pressure, or hypertension, which is a key risk
factor for strokes, heart attacks and other car-
In a study published in the British Medical
Journal (BMJ), they found that patients taking
dispersible forms of drugs had a 16 per cent
increased risk of a heart attack, stroke or vascular
death compared with patients taking the non-
high-sodium versions of the same medications.
Jacob George, an honorary consultant in clinical
pharmacology at Dundee who led the study, said
patients, and consumers of over-the-counter
medicines---such as soluble aspirin, effervescent
vitamin C, or Bayer s Alka Seltzer for example -
"should be warned about the potential dangers"
of high sodium intake in medicines.
Doctors, he added, should be aware of the
potential dangers and prescribe fizzy or soluble
forms of drugs "with caution, only if the perceived
benefits outweigh the risks".
"There are a lot of patients who need to use
these formulations---those who have difficulty
swallowing large tablets, for example," George
told Reuters in a telephone interview. "But what
we want is for patients to be able to make an
informed decision with the help of their doctor."
Although there is some debate on the issue,
many health experts believe that eating too much
salt is bad for health and numerous studies have
linked excess salt intake to high blood pressure,
which can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
The World Health Organisation recommends a
daily upper limit of sodium intake of less than
2 grams---equivalent to around 5 grams, or one
teaspoon, of salt.
For this latest study, George s team tracked
more than 1.2 million patients, comparing those
taking sodium-containing effervescent, dispersible
and soluble medicines with those taking non-
sodium versions of the same drugs.
The study ran between 1987 and 2010 and
patients were tracked for an average of just over
During this time, over 61,000 new so-called
cardiovascular events---including heart attacks
and strokes---occurred in the patients being stud-
Factors likely to affect the results, such as body
mass index, smoking, alcohol intake, history of
various chronic illnesses and use of other med-
icines, were taken into account.
Beside the 16 per cent higher risk of a heart
problem or stroke, the team also found patients
taking sodium-containing drugs were seven times
High sodium 'fizzy' medicines
linked to raised heart risks
There are a lot of patients who
need to use these formulations---
those who have difficulty
swallowing large tablets, for
example, ...but what we want is for
patients to be able to make an
informed decision with the help of
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
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