Most U.S. adults unaware that over-the-counter pain relievers may increase blood pressure

(NewMediaWire) – November 02, 2021 – DALLAS – While nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure (HBP), only 29% think over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers may raise blood pressure, according to a recent survey commissioned by the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives for all.

According to the American Heart Association’s 2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Management of High Blood Pressure, high blood pressure is defined as a consistent blood pressure measurement of 130 over 80 or higher. The guidelines also state that some OTC pain relievers may elevate blood pressure.  

While majority of adults in the general population, as well as people with high blood pressure, aren’t sure about the effect of OTC pain medicine on their blood pressure, only a little more than half of those diagnosed with high blood pressure, who take OTC pain relievers (53%) check with their doctor before taking this medicine.

“People who have high blood pressure or are being treated with blood pressure medication – along with their loved ones and caretakers – need to be informed about safe over-the-counter pain relievers,” said Willie Lawrence, Jr., M.D., interventional cardiologist, medical director for health equity, Spectrum Health in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and volunteer lead of the American Heart Association’s National Hypertension Control Initiative oversight committee.

“Because some pain relievers may cause elevated blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends consulting your doctor or pharmacist and making sure you read the label before taking any over-the-counter medication for pain, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure.”

Conducted by The Harris Poll, the survey polled 2,013 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. Additional findings from the survey include:

  • 38% of those with high blood pressure think over-the-counter pain relievers may raise blood pressure.
  • Only 21% of U.S. adults know that acetaminophen does not raise blood pressure, and those with high blood pressure are only slightly more aware of this fact (28%).
  • 39% of U.S. adults with high blood pressure report acetaminophen is the over-the-counter medication they take most often for pain.

  • Only 10% of U.S. adults with HBP self-measure their BP multiple times a day and only 14% do so at least once a day.

In the U.S., high blood pressure is the No. 1 preventable cause of heart disease and stroke and second only to cigarette smoking as a preventable cause of death for any reason. Checking your blood pressure regularly at home with a validated blood pressure device for the most  accurate reading and working with your doctor on a plan to control it, is a proven way to manage your blood pressure.

For more information on managing high blood pressure, visit


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

About the Survey

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Heart Association from June 24-28,2021 among 2,013 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Toiya Honoré, national director, communications, American Heart Association.

For Media Inquiries:

Toiya Honoré; 214-706-1456

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)