New study reveals painkillers can increase risk up to four times of heart attack and stroke. Commonly used over-the-counter painkillers including Ibuprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and COX-2 inhibitors are among those named.
Many of the drugs found to be risky, are routinely recommended by doctors to treat post-surgery pain, arthritis and common headaches negatively affect cardiovascular health.
The study published by the British Medical Journal remains the most comprehensive research undertaken, studying the effects of painkillers on the heart. The conclusion of the study reveals that in general the number of people who experience heart attacks and strokes while using the drugs are relatively low. Nevertheless, there are serious and prevalent risks.
A team at Bern University assessed 31 studies that followed more than 116,000 patients who regularly used over-the-counter painkillers. The complete list of painkillers sold in the United States involved in the studies included diclofenac, naproxen, etoricoxib, ibuprofen, celecoxib and lumiracoxib which is sold abroad. Vioxx, a once popular drug banned by the Food and Drug Administration in the U. S., was included in the study. The FDA banned the sale of Vioxx in the United States because drug increased the risk of strokes and heart attacks. However, in England, Vioxx remains on the market.
Lumiracoxib and rofecoxib presented risks twice as high of suffering a heart attack. The commonly used pain reliever Ibuprofen had associated risks three times higher and diclofenac and etoricoxib presented the highest risk of up to four times more likely. However, Naproxen commonly used in drugs like Aleve, presented the lowest risk.
Researchers involved in the study question whether these painkillers should remain available over-the-counter. Scientists involved are in favor of these painkillers becoming available by prescription only, so doctors can monitor patient usage.