Salt in drugs raise heart attack risk- Study

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Higher salt content in diet is known to spur cardiovascular events. Thus cutting salt and taking recommended medicines is the most prescribed treatment option.

Ironically, some of the commonly used medicines contain high salt levels that pose health troubles for users.

According to the findings of a new study, over-the-counter pain killers like paracetamol,
aspirin, ibuprofen and diet supplements like vitamin C, calcium and zinc contain high levels of salt. Taking these drugs on regular basis raises the risk of stroke by 22 percent and a risk of premature death due to any other cause by 28 percent.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the University of Dundee looked at 24 different effervescent or soluble painkillers and dietary supplements available over-the counter, without a prescription.

Lab tests of the drugs revealed sodium content as high as 18mmol, one-fifth of a teaspoon.

In case one takes the maximum daily dose of such drugs, his daily salt levels are bound to exceed the daily salt allowance, researchers marked.

Researchers also analyzed health records of 1.3 million people who were prescribed either the salt-containing drugs or the same drugs sans salt.

The participants were followed for 7 years. Researchers found that people taking salt-containing drugs were 22 percent more likely to suffer from a stroke and 28 percent more likely to die prematurely due to any cause as compared to those who used drugs without salt.

“We believe that our findings are potentially of public health importance,” study’s lead researcher, Dr Jacob George, from the University of Dundee, said.

“The sodium content of medicines seems to be an important topic that needs to be dealt with by regulatory agencies,” added.

As these drugs are commonly available over-the-counter, there can be no control on how many people buy these drugs. “As a minimum, the public should be warned about the potential hazards of high sodium consumption in prescribed medicines, and these should be clearly labeled in the same way as foods are labeled,” George advised.

The findings of the study appear in the current issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

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