These Common Painkillers Could Increase Your Heart Attack Risk
A recent comprehensive study has just discovered a connection between the common use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Motrin and Advil) and a 20% to 50% increase risk of heart attack.
"We found that all common NSAIDs share a heightened risk of heart attack," explained Dr. Michele Bally, lead researcher and epidemiologist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center.
Dr. Bally disproved the common perception that naproxen (used in Aleve and Midol) presents the lowest cardiovascular risk of all NSAIDs. "This is just not true," she says. Any over-the-counter painkiller will maintain the same risk.
Long-Term Users See Dramatic Increase In Risk
Each year, an estimated 735,000 people suffer from a heart attack in the United States. Bally and her team reviewed 446,763 cases of individuals in the United States and the United Kingdom with long-term prescriptions for painkillers.
The study's findings? "These drugs increase your risk of having a heart attack, however, this large-scale study worryingly highlights just how quickly you become at risk after starting NSAID use," said Dr. Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation.
A case study embedded in the overall study revealed that naproxen use for a month increases your risk of having a heart attack by up to 75%!
Taking painkillers consistently (even for just one week) increases your chances of having a heart attack. Let's say that after reading this, you're interested in weaning off ibuprofen? It will take anywhere from one month to a year without painkillers before you'll settle below a 11% risk.
"People minimize the risks because drugs are over the counter and they don't read labels. Why not consider all treatment options?" said Dr. Bally in an interview. "Every therapeutic decision is a balance of benefits and risk."
Painkillers Are Only Contributing Factors
Common painkiller use, tobacco use, unhealthy eating, obesity, alcohol use and hypertension are all factors that contribute to heart attacks. The breakthrough of the study was the fact that painkiller use was a commonality among heart attack victims when the other factors were not.
"The increased risk of heart attack with NSAIDs, regardless of which one, means that both health professionals and the public should weigh up the harm and the benefit when prescribing these medications, especially for more than a day or two," said Dr. Amitava Banerjee, a senior clinical lecturer in clinical data science at UCL in the UK, in her closing statement.