Could Your Painkiller Kill You?

Featured Article, Healthy Heart, Healthy Living, Heart attack
on May 30, 2013
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Taking high doses of painkillers like ibuprofen or diclofenac long-term can increase the risk of heart attack more than a third according to a study reported in The Lancet medical journal.

Researchers conducted a study into a class of painkillers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that revealed high doses of the drugs could possibly increase the risk a heart attack or stroke.

This means for every 1,000 people with an average risk of heart disease who take high doses of diclofenac or ibuprofen for a year, about three extra would have an avoidable heart attack and one those would be fatal.

Professor Colin Baigent, of Britain’s Oxford University, led the study and emphasized that the risks are mostly pertinent to people who experience chronic pain who need to take high doses (150mg of diclofenac or 2400mg of ibuprofen) of these painkillers for long periods of time. These risks are relative to the individual’s existing risk of heart disease.

The study also showed that all NSAIDs doubled the risk of heart failure and generated a two- to four-time increased risk of major upper gastrointestinal complications. One particular NSAID, naproxen, didn’t seem to add to the risk of heart attacks. Researchers believe this may be due to the fact the drug has protective effects that could balance out any extra heart risks.

In addition to decreasing the use of NSAIDs, here are some additional ways to reduce your heart attack risk.