Painkillers linked to risk of heart failure: study

According to experts, common painkillers could result in an increased risk of heart failure.

 Painkillers linked to risk of heart failure: study

Painkillers like ibuprofen are classified as non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs and selective COX-2 inhibitors, which are another sub-category of anti-inflammatories, are used to reduce pain and inflammation.

The Independent reports that the drugs have already been linked to abnormal heart rhythm by previous studies, as well as a higher risk of heart attack and stroke with regular use.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) conducted a study on nearly 10 million NSAIDs users from the UK, Netherlands, Italy and Germany. From 2000 to 2010, over 90,000 of these NSAIDs users were admitted to hospitals for heart failure.

Should I be concerned?

According to Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, pointed out that the heightened risk of heart failure applies “mostly to those who take them on a daily basis rather than only occasionally”.

This group of painkillers are “commonly taken by patients with joint problems”, and should be “used with caution in patients with, or at high risk of, heart disease”. As such, those with both heart and joint problems are advised to “discuss their treatment with their GP if they have any concerns”.

Which medicines should I avoid?

According to the BMJ study, the “risk of admission for heart failure increased for seven traditional NSAIDs (diclofenac, ibuprofen, indomethacin, ketorolac, naproxen, nimesulide, and piroxicam) and two COX 2 inhibitors (etoricoxib and rofecoxib)”.

The increased heart failure risk “seems to vary between drugs and according to the dose”, experts said.

For painkillers like indomethacin and etoricoxib, even medium doses was found to be linked to a greater risk of being admitted for heart failure. On the other hand, the use of celecoxib was not found to cause the same risk.

Although not commonly used at extreme doses, the study found that very high doses of diclofenac, etoricoxib, indomethacin, piroxicam, and rofecoxib could double the risk of heart failure.

Specifically for the NSAID ketorolac, the risk of hospital admission increased by a worrying 83 per cent.

Read more at The Independent.

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