Common Painkillers Boost Heart Attack Risks
Common prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, including ibuprofen, boost the risk of heart attack, according to new research that backs earlier findings linking such drugs to cardiac hazards.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), finds that higher risk of heart attack depends on dose and arises as early as the first week of use.
But the researchers said the new findings indicate doctors and patients should more carefully weigh the risks and benefits of so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Such medications include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cambia), celecoxib (Celebrex), and naproxen (Midol, Aleve).
Asprin, which is also an NSAID, was not among the painkillers linked to heart attacks and has consistently been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer.
“Given that the onset of risk of acute myocardial infarction [heart attack] occurred in the first week and appeared greatest in the first month of treatment with higher doses, prescribers should consider weighing the risks and benefits of NSAIDs before instituting treatment, particularly for higher doses,” the researchers concluded.
The findings are based on an analysis of studies by an international team of researchers led by Michèle Bally of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center (CRCHUM), formerly an epidemiology doctoral student at McGill University in Canada.
The researchers examined the medical records of nearly 447,000 people, more than 61,000 of whom had a heart attack, from Canada, Finland, and the United Kingdom.
The findings showed that taking any dose of NSAIDs for one week, one month, or more than a month was associated with an increased risk of heart attack.
Overall the increased risk of a heart attack was between 20 percent and 50 percent greater for those using NSAIDs than those not taking them.
The findings also indicated the higher the dose or frequency of taking the drugs, the greater the risk of heart attack.
The study is the largest investigation of its kind to examine real-world patient experiences.
After previous studies reached similar conclusions, the Food and Drug Administration required cardiovascular risk warnings be added to the labels of all NSAIDs (except aspirin) in 2005, updated those requirements in 2015.
Health and Wellness Associates