Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
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Popular NSAID pain reliever linked to serious heart health risk

Popular NSAID pain reliever linked to serious heart health risk

Diclofenac, a commonly used painkiller, was associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and strokes, compared with no medication or other medication, according to a study in Denmark. The increased risk exists for both sexes irrespective of age, and even for low doses of the drug.

"With respect to anyone needing a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, especially over a period of time, not just transient use when you sprain your ankle or that type of thing, if you're going to take one of these medication on a longer-term basis, you ought to consult with your physician, you ought to understand that there may be an increased cardiovascular risk and balance that with the potential benefit you might get out of this medication", says SLU Care's Dr. Michael Lim is a cardiologist at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital.

And while treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients, they concluded: "Considering its cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, however, there is little justification to initiate diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs".

'It is time to acknowledge the potential health risk of diclofenac and to reduce its use.

Are you anxious the medication you take could be impacting your overall health negatively?

For example, they looked at people who reported taking diclofenac in 1996, then tracked their health for the next 12 months, while comparing them to people who either took other NSAIDs, acetaminophen, or nothing at all.


They suggested diclofenac be prescribed with a warning label attached and banned as an over-the-counter drug in countries like the USA where it's available as such.

The incidents included irregular heart beat or flutter, ischaemic stroke, heart failure and heart attack.

The results are based on national registry data for more than 6.3 million adults in Denmark taken from 1996 to 2016. Because it would likely be unethical (and costly) to conduct the sort of large-scale randomised trial that could definitively confirm these suspicions, though, the Danish researchers behind the new paper opted for an unique sort of study. Diclofenac is a traditional NSAID that has similar selectivity for cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX 2) as COX 2 inhibitors, but the cardiovascular risks of diclofenac in comparison with other traditional NSAIDs have not been investigated through a randomized controlled trial.

More specifically, diclofenac initiators had a 50% increased rate of major cardiovascular events compared with participants who didn't take NSAIDs.

However, while the relative risk increased, the absolute one remained low for the individual patient.

Diclofenac is a traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for treating pain and inflammation and is widely used across the world. They are now advocating that low dose ibuprofen or naproxen should be considered as comparators.

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