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Acetaminophen, which is frequently known by the brand name Tylenol, is one of the most commonly used over-the-counter painkillers in the world. While acetaminophen is generally considered safe to use, researchers are still making new discoveries about the risks that come with taking it. These discoveries come in addition to previously established risks, such as its prevalence in accidental drug interaction overdoses, kidney, and liver damage.

One study recently published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society examined deaths, heart attacks, and strokes that took place over an 18-month period in over 5,000 participants in their eighties. Among the 2,239 participants who took acetaminophen, there was an increased risk of stroke in individuals who had diabetes. These results suggest that while acetaminophen is generally safe for pain management, it should be used with caution in older adults who have diabetes.

The relationship between stroke, diabetes, and acetaminophen is relevant to millions of individuals in the United States alone. Diabetes is extremely widespread, with over 30 million individuals in the U.S. being diabetic, yet nearly one in four are unaware that they even have diabetes. In addition to that, one of every 20 U.S. deaths, or about 140,000 per year, is caused by a stroke. As one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., any new information about the risk factors for stroke is critically important.

When a valuable medical discovery is made, it can be used to build upon current healthcare practices and recommendations. As medical research progresses, information like this will be pivotal in advancing stroke prevention and treatment. In the meantime, identifying even this one new stroke risk factor could make a life-saving difference in a diabetes patient’s life.

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