Painkillers such as Ibruprofen, which is commonly used to reduce pain caused by inflammation, have been linked to increased risk of heart disease.
NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are recommended to patients suffering from Osteoarthritis and other painful conditions associated with inflammation, but new research has now linked these to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The researchers have now warned GPs to take cardiovascular risk into account with each individual patient before recommending the use of NSAIDs.
In 2004, a new generation anti-inflammatory drug, the COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib was withdrawn from the market after a trial found that it was linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This sparked a wide debate over the safety of such anti-inflammatory drugs, especially in those patients already at increased risk of developing heart disease.
The ongoing debate led researchers in Switzerland to perform a full analysis of all trials comparing NSAIDs with non NSAIDs or placebos – a total of 31 trials and 116,429 people taking 7 different drugs.
However, the researchers found that although the number of cardiovascular events occurring during the trials were low, they do not consider this to be proof of the drugs being safe to take when already at increased risk of heart problems or stroke – which applies to many patients suffering from musculoskeletal problems.
When compared with placebo, rofecoxib and lumiracoxib were associated with more than twice the risk of heart attack, while ibubrofen was associated with more than three times the risk of stroke. Etoricoxib and diclofenac were associated with the highest risk of cardiovascular death – around four times the risk when compared with the placebo results.
Naproxen appeared the least harmful of the 7 drugs involved in the analysis.
The results of this research indicate that more research needs to be done on this issue, given the risks involved and the regular recommendation of these drugs. It is clear that alternatives to the traditional anti-imflammatory drugs need to be evaluated and promoted.
Perhaps a worrying outcome of this study is its links to aspirin – also an NSAID – which is recommended to people attempting to keep their heart healthy. A clear guide to the NSAIDs would benefit the public and enable people suffering from Osteoarthritis and joint pain to have more say in their treatment.
If you want to find out more about all the NSAIDs, please visit the NHS link below;