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Thursday, July 30, 1998 Published at 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK


Paracetamol may combat heart disease

A new treatment for heart disease?

The pain killer paracetamol may help protect against strokes and heart attacks by preventing hardening of the arteries, scientists claim.

The results of a small preliminary study presented at a medical conference in Munich, Germany, suggested that paracetamol can lessen the likelihood of cholesterol plaque building up on artery walls.

A team led by Dr Addison Taylor, professor of medicine and pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, found that paracetamol can thin the blood.

It suggests that the drug may act as an anti-oxidant, inhibiting the oxidation of certain fatty proteins which carry the "bad" form of cholesterol.

Oxidation of these substances is one of the main processes involved in the formation of plaque and hardening of the arteries.

Further research required

Dr Taylor said: "While further study is required to make any definitive association between paracetamol and a protective effect in patients at risk of cardiovascular disease, what we observed is promising and may suggest a potential clinical role for paracetamol as an antioxidant."

The study was carried out in 12 healthy human volunteers and compared those who received eight 1,000mg doses of paracetamol with those who received no treatment.

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