NSAIDs: heart failure, heart attack, stroke

Common anti-inflammatory painkillers increasing the risk of heart failure – expert comment | London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine | LSHTM. | July 13, 2015

The ~5% chance of addiction is driving damaging healthcare policies, like suggesting we all take NSAIDs instead of opioids for our chronic pain.

Here’s what the CDC isn’t telling anyone:
NSAIDs have terrible side effects.

Common painkillers such as ibuprofen and diclofenac that are used by millions of people in the UK have been linked to an increased risk of heart failure, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.

Led by the University of Milano-Bicocca, the study analysed 10 million users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) from the UK, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands between 2000-2010.

The researchers found that people who aged 77 on average, and had taken an NSAID in the previous 14 days, faced a 19% increased risk of being taken to hospital for heart failure.  

The research showed the NSAIDs associated with this risk included ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen.

The risk of heart failure actually doubled for diclofenac when taken at high doses, but the researchers urged this should be ‘interpreted with caution.’  

FDA strengthens warning that NSAIDs increase heart attack and stroke risk – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publications – July 13, 2015

Back in 2005, the FDA warned that taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen increased the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Last week it took the unusual step of further strengthening this warning. 

This is probably because they’re bracing for a wave of pain patients suffering with gastrointestinal and heart problems from taking too many NSAIDS.

This can be expected because so many doctors are no longer prescribing opioids and telling their patients to take NSAIDs instead – as the CDC recommends.

his was done on the advice of an expert panel that reviewed new information about NSAIDs and their risks.

Because NSAIDs are widely used, it’s important to be aware of downsides of taking an NSAID and to take steps to limit the risk.

Many people take NSAIDs to relieve mild to moderate pain. These medications may be particularly effective in conditions in which pain results primarily from inflammation, such as arthritis or athletic injury.

For more than 15 years, experts have known that NSAIDs increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. They may also elevate blood pressure and cause heart failure.

The risk of heart attack and stroke achieved special notoriety with rofecoxib (Vioxx), a type of NSAID called a COX-2 inhibitor. It caused as many as 140,000 heart attacks in the U.S. during the five years it was on the market (Vioxx was removed from the market in 2004).

The regrettable experience with Vioxx raised awareness about the cardiovascular risk of NSAIDs, and led to further studies showing that the risk is not limited to Vioxx but is associated with all NSAIDs.

The new warnings from the FDA point out:

  • Heart attack and stroke risk increase even with short-term use, and the risk may begin within a few weeks of starting to take an NSAID.
  • The risk increases with higher doses of NSAIDs taken for longer periods of time.
  • The risk is greatest for people who already have heart disease, though even people without heart disease may be at risk.

Taking an NSAID for a headache, or for a few days to ease a sore shoulder isn’t likely to cause a heart attack or stroke. It’s more prolonged use that can get risky.

In view of the new warnings, it is best for people with heart disease to avoid NSAIDs if at all possible  

Here are previous articles on the dangers of NSAIDs:


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  1. Pingback: Addiction psych questions forced opioid tapering | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

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