Could Everyday Painkillers Increase Your Heart Attack Risk?

Popping a few ibuprofen here and there can get rid pain that won’t go away on its own, but if you take this common painkiller in high doses for a long time, you could be putting your heart wellness at risk. This is according to a new study, published in the Lancet, which found that prolonged use of ibuprofen and diclofenac, can slightly increase your risk of heart problems.


It has already been suggested that there’s a slight risk with taking these common painkillers, but a team of researchers at the University of Oxford analysed the issue in unprecedented detail in order to help you to make an informed choice. The researchers assessed the impact of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs using more than 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials.


The results showed that, for every 1,000 people taking high-dose prescription levels of the drugs, there would be three additional heart attacks, four more cases of heart failure and one death, as well as cases of stomach bleeding. Lead researcher Professor Colin Baigent noted, ‘Three per thousand per year sounds like it is quite a low risk, but the judgement has to be made by patients.’ He added, ‘So if you’re a patient and you go and sit in front of your doctor and discuss it, you are the one who should be making the judgement about whether three per thousand per year is worth it to allow you, potentially, to go about your daily life.’


According to Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, the drugs are a ‘lifeline’ for the wellbeing of millions of people with arthritis and are ‘extremely effective in relieving pain.’ Yet, he conceded ‘because of their potential side-effects, in particular the increased risk of cardiovascular complications which has been known for a number of years, there is an urgent need to find alternatives that are as effective, but safer.’


Professor Donald Singer, a member of the British Pharmacological Society and from the University of Warwick, commented, ‘The findings underscore a key point for patients and prescribers; powerful drugs may have serious harmful effects. It is therefore important for prescribers to take into account these risks and ensure patients are fully informed about the medicines they are taking.’

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