Paracetamol can prevent heart attack
Reported February 22, 2010
The preliminary findings by a Sydney-based team suggest paracetamol, first marketed for pain relief in the 1950s, could help save lives by inhibiting an enzyme already used as a sign of a patient’s heart attack risk.
Although the enzyme, called myeloperoxidase, plays an important role in the body’s immune system, it produces hypochlorous acid, a free radical that damages tissues when produced in excess and is strongly associated with heart attacks.
Searching for compounds that could block the enzyme, the researchers found that paracetamol worked remarkably well, at least when mixed with human cells in test tubes.
They now plan clinical trials on patients to see if those taking paracetamol also show reduced levels of hypochlorous acid, and have better health outcomes.
If the research confirms a protective effect for paracetamol, it would repeat the remarkable reinvention of aspirin, which reclaimed its place in the limelight following evidence it cut the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Since then, further research has suggested other benefits, including protection against colorectal cancer, breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
However, doubts have since resurfaced over whether the benefits of healthy people taking aspirin to prevent heart disease outweigh the risks. Aspirin has been linked to stomach bleeding and the aggravation of ulcers.
Paracetamol has risks of its own, notably kidney and liver damage, if taken in overdose.
Heart Research Institute deputy director Michael Davies, who led the new research, said the results were “very promising” and paracetamol had “enormous potential”.
National Heart Foundation chief medical adviser James Tatoulis said the research was “new and is very convincing”.
“There is great promise and potential for this safe, cheap and widely available medicine to contribute to the reduction of coronary heart disease in the community,” he said.
Source : www.theaustralian.com.au