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BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Effervescent formulations of paracetamol containing sodium bicarbonate have been reported to associate with increased blood pressure and a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality. Given the major implications of these findings, the reported associations were re-examined. METHODS: Using linked electronic health records data, a cohort of 475 442 UK individuals with at least one prescription of paracetamol, aged between 60 and 90 years, was identified. Outcomes in patients taking sodium-based paracetamol were compared with those taking non-sodium-based formulations of the same. Using a deep learning approach, associations with systolic blood pressure (SBP), major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke), and all-cause mortality within 1 year after baseline were investigated. RESULTS: A total of 460 980 and 14 462 patients were identified for the non-sodium-based and sodium-based paracetamol exposure groups, respectively (mean age: 74 years; 64% women). Analysis revealed no difference in SBP [mean difference -0.04 mmHg (95% confidence interval -0.51, 0.43)] and no association with major cardiovascular events [relative risk (RR) 1.03 (0.91, 1.16)]. Sodium-based paracetamol showed a positive association with all-cause mortality [RR 1.46 (1.40, 1.52)]. However, after further accounting of other sources of residual confounding, the observed association attenuated towards the null [RR 1.08 (1.01, 1.16)]. Exploratory analyses revealed dysphagia and related conditions as major sources of uncontrolled confounding by indication for this association. CONCLUSIONS: This study does not support previous suggestions of increased SBP and an elevated risk of cardiovascular events from short-term use of sodium bicarbonate paracetamol in routine clinical practice.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Heart J

Publication Date



Blood pressure, Cardiovascular diseases, Deep learning, Hypertension, Paracetamol