Prospective studies have suggested that women who self-select for use of analgesics have an increased risk of hypertension, but data in men are sparse. We tested whether apparently healthy male physicians who reported analgesic use had an increased risk of subsequent hypertension.
Prospective cohort study of 8229 participants in the Physicians’ Health Study who were free of hypertension and completed detailed analgesic questionnaires. Hypertension was defined as self-reported blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher or use of antihypertensive medication.
After a mean of 5.8 years’ follow-up, 2234 men (27.2%) reported subsequent hypertension. We categorized the cumulative analgesic use in quintiles. After adjusting for potential confounders, men in the highest quintile had no statistically significant increased risk of hypertension (hazard ratio, 1.12; 95% confidence interval, 0.97-1.31) when compared with those in the lowest quintile. In subgroup analyses, we evaluated the cumulative use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and aspirin. Compared with never users, men who reported consuming at least 2500 pills had hazard ratios of 1.05 (95% confidence interval, 0.89-1.24) for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, 1.08 (95% confidence interval, 0.87-1.34) for acetaminophen, and 1.16 (95% confidence interval, 0.92-1.48) for aspirin. The results were similar for analgesic use in the year preceding the analgesic questionnaire.
In this large cohort, apparently healthy male physicians who self-selected for analgesic use had no significantly increased risk of subsequent hypertension, although a small to moderately increased risk cannot be excluded in observational studies.