Report links painkillers to increased risk of heart attack

For the general public without major heart risk factors the risk associated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs remains very low a physician says

The study concluded with more than 90 per cent probability that all NSAIDs studied are associated with a heightened risk of heart attack, University of Montreal said.

The risk of a heart attack began within a week of taking the drugs, but did not grow with longer use the study found.

These types of pain medications are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and are quite commonly used today, but according to new research, these drugs may increase your risk of heart attack by 20 to 50 percent. Health related data was cross-referred with the medical history of the people, in relation to three common anti-inflammatory painkillers: ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen.

Taking common painkillers such as ibuprofen for only a week can significantly raise the risk of having a heart attack, a study suggests.

Risk did not seem to continue to increase with longer treatment duration, but the researchers cautioned that they did not study repeat MIs and it remained "prudent" to use NSAIDs for as short time as possible.

Commenting on the findings, Professor John McNeil, head of Monash University's School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, says the results add to a series of previous studies suggesting NSAIDS increase the risk of MI.

The researchers note that their study is purely observational, so it is unable to make any conclusions about cause and effect between NSAID use and risk of heart attack. The study, published in The BMJ, focused on the use of ibuprofen, celecoxib, diclofenac, naproxen, and rofecoxib.

Risk was higher among users on high doses of the painkillers.

"There's a perception that they're benign", Bally said. They say other factors - not just the pills - could be involved.

"It remains possible that the painkillers aren't actually the cause of the extra heart attacks". "The two main issues here are that the risks are relatively small, and for most people who are not at high risk of a heart attack these findings have minimal implications", Evans said in a statement.

But people should take the opportunity to talk to their doctor and pharmacist about their individual heart attack risks and what types of painkillers they should be using, she said.

Heart attack risk increases with age and is made worse by raised cholesterol.

If you do decide to take the meds, stick to the lowest effect dose-the study found that heart attack risk rises at higher dosages. More than 61,400 people suffered heart attacks.

John Smith, chief executive of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, the United Kingdom trade association representing manufacturers of branded over-the-counter medicines, said: "NSAIDs that are available to buy over the counter are much lower doses than those prescribed".

The level of risk was found to rise as early as one week into the use of any drug in this category and at any dose.

"It is vital that Global Positioning System have adequate access to a variety of therapies in the community, so that we can develop a treatment plan for our patients living with chronic pain that works best for them".

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