Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Common Painkillers Double Heart Attack And Stroke Risk, New Study Finds

Common Painkillers Double Heart Attack And Stroke Risk, New Study Finds

Diclofenac should not be available over the counter, and when prescribed, should be accompanied by an appropriate front package warning about its potential risks'.

"While NSAID use previously was considered risk-neutral in short treatment periods and low doses, the risks were apparent even within 30 days and also for low doses of diclofenac".

And compared to those using ibuprofen, the risk of using diclofenac increased by 20%.

It was also found to be linked to an increased risk of cardiac death when compared with taking no traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be of value to some patients to improve their quality of life despite possible side effects".

The results are based on national registry data for more than 6.3 million adults in Denmark with at least one year of continuous prescription records before study entry in January 1996. "In conclusion, our data support that initiation of diclofenac poses a cardiovascular health risk, both compared with no use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional NSAIDs", they state.

The new study, however, examined this common painkiller's negative impact on the circulatory system and found out that this drug is indeed increasing the risks of cardiovascular conditions, heart attack and stroke included, as reported by the leading author Morten Schmidt at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.

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In those who took diclofenac for 30 days, the risk rose by a huge 50% - compared to those not taking any drugs.

The researchers pointed out the absolute risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular disease still remained low for individual patients.

While the researchers did acknowledge this was an observational study, they also noted the sample sizes they used were larger than what has been used with previous research on the same subject.

People who have suffered heart failure, heart disease or a stroke should stop using it completely. But given the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, there is little justification for starting a diclofenac treatment before testing other traditional NSAIDs, "the researchers concluded". People who used these drugs have had on the average one attack less than with Diclofenac.

"It is time to acknowledge the potential health risk of diclofenac and to reduce its use", Schmidt and colleagues wrote in their study, which was published on September 4.

But it adds diclofenac continues to provide safe and effective pain relief, apart from patients in certain "at risk" groups. It blocks a substance in the body called cyclo-oxygenase, which produces chemicals in response to injury - causing pain, swelling and inflammation.

More worrying is the staggering decline in independent, investigative journalism.

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