A medical study has highlighted the dangers of taking paracetamol regularly which has since prompted experts to send a warning to Brits.

It was assumed that - until fairly recently - paracetamol was a completely safe drug to use in patients with high blood pressure.

However, it has now been revealed that some people who take paracetamol regularly could have a heightened risk of certain deadly diseases.

A 2022 study found the effect on blood pressure is similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.

NSAIDs are used to manage chronic pain but are also known to increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease, according to the ECHO.

Experts have said the increase in blood pressure might be expected to increase the risk of heart disease or stroke by around 20%. Researchers say patients who have a long-term prescription for the painkiller, usually used for the treatment of chronic pain, should be given the lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible.

Professor James Dear, personal chairman of clinical pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This study clearly shows that paracetamol, the world's most used drug, increases blood pressure, one of the most important risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.

Prof Dear said doctors and patients should "together consider the risks versus the benefits" especially where patients are at risk of cardiovascular disease. He continued: "In summary, we've shown that two weeks of treatment with paracetamol increases blood pressure in patients who have hypertension (high blood pressure)."

Recommended reading:

Dr Michael Mosley: Getting slim easily in time for summer

Michael Mosley: Garden trick that is secret to long living

Who is Michael Mosley? The Fast 800 pioneer and health guru

Lead investigator Dr Iain MacIntyre, consultant in clinical pharmacology and nephrology at NHS Lothian said people who use paracetamol every once in a while shouldn't worry.

Dr MacIntyre said: "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."

The study found that after people stopped taking the drug, their blood pressure returned to what it was at the start of the study, suggesting the drug increased it.

"Doctors should always weigh up the benefits and risks"

Researchers said they did not have accurate numbers of the people in the UK who are on paracetamol long-term and have high blood pressure. However, it is estimated that one in three adults in the UK who have high blood pressure take paracetamol regularly.

According to the experts, the study was set up to see a very small effect on blood pressure, and they were surprised to see a much bigger impact.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, said the findings "emphasise why doctors and patients should regularly review whether there is an ongoing need to take any medication" and "always weigh up the benefits and risks."

Blood Pressure UK says around one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure. In England, this is 31% of men and 26% of women.