Research recently reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) links an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes to the use of effervescent, soluble medicines.
A research team from Britain’s University of Dundee and University College London found that people taking the maximum daily dose of some “fizzy” versions of painkillers, vitamin supplements, or other common medicines would exceed the daily recommended limits for sodium, Reuters reports. This does not take into account other daily sodium sources.
The researchers report that patients taking soluble forms of drugs had a 16 percent increased risk of a heart attack, stroke, or vascular death compared to patients taking non-soluble versions of the same medications. Jacob George, who is a clinical pharmacology consultant at Dundee, led the study, and told Reuters that people who use such over-the-counter medicines as soluble aspirin, effervescent vitamin C, or Bayer’s Alka Seltzer “should be warned about the potential dangers” of high sodium intake in medicines. People turn to soluble formulas, George said, because of difficulty swallowing pills.
While what represents a safe level of sodium intake is subject to debate, many health experts believe that too much salt is bad for health. Numerous studies have linked excess salt intake to high blood pressure, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks, according to Reuters. The World Health Organization recommends limiting daily sodium to less than 2 grams, the equivalent of about one teaspoon of salt.
George’s team’s study ran from 1987 to 2010, during which the team tracked more than 1.2 million patients, comparing those using high-sodium effervescent medicines with those taking the non-soluble, low-sodium versions of the same drugs. On average, patients were tracked for about seven years. During the study period, over 61,000 new cardiovascular events—heart attacks and strokes—occurred in the patients being studied. In their analysis, researchers took into account such factors such as body mass index, chronic illnesses, smoking, alcohol intake, and other medicines used.
Reuters reports that patients taking sodium-containing drugs were seven times more likely to develop high blood pressure, and their overall death rate was 28 percent higher.