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“Fizzy” Medicines Tied to Increased Risk of Heart Events Due to High Salt Levels

Update Date: Nov 27, 2013 10:48 AM EST
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Even though prescription medications are supposed to help improve people's health conditions, they inevitably have some side effects. In a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Dundee and the University College of London, the team discovered that certain "fizzy" medications could lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular events if people took the maximum daily dose. According to the researchers, these effervescent medicines have a high content of salt.

For this study, Dr. Jacob George, the senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant in clinical pharmacology at the University of Dundee led the research and examined the relationship between the risks of different cardiovascular events and types of medicines. Cardiovascular events included non-fatal heart attack, non-fatal stroke or vascular death. The researchers focused on the same versions of drugs that either had or did not have sodium. The data were drawn from the time span of 1987 to 2010.

The team reported that taking the sodium versions of prescribed drugs increased one's chances of developing hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, by seven times. The researchers discovered that patients who took the dissolvable drugs with sodium were 16 percent more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or vascular death in comparison to people who took the non-sodium version of the same drug. The group of people taking the sodium drugs had a death rate that was 28 percent higher than people who took the exact same medications made without sodium.

"Prescription of these sodium-containing formulations should be done with caution, and patients prescribed them should be closely monitored for the emergence of hypertension," the authors wrote according to Medical Xpress.

The authors added that sodium-containing drugs should only be prescribed if the "benefits outweigh the risks" for each individual patient. Furthermore, people who have to take the sodium version of the drug should be extra careful about limiting their salt intake from other sources, such as foods. The researchers stated that better labeling of these drugs would be vital in helping people become more aware of their sodium intake.

"It is extraordinary to think that sodium has been hiding in our medicines all this time," Professor Gareth Beevers, of Blood Pressure UK, said reported by BBC News. "Without clear labeling on these products, it is impossible to know how much additional sodium you would be eating, so it is shocking to find you could be having more than your daily maximum from medicines alone."

The data came from over 1.2 million people from the United Kingdom. They were followed for an average of sevens years. Over 61,000 cardiovascular events occurred during that time. The team took into account people's body mass index, smoking, alcohol consumption, history of chronic diseases and history of prescription drug use.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

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