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Heart Disease Health Center

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Ibuprofen, Naproxen: No Heart Risk

Pain Relievers Don't Increase Risk of Heart Attacks, Study Shows

Measuring NSAID Risk continued...

Although the overall longer use (over a year) of all traditional NSAIDs was associated with a 20% increase in the risk for nonfatal heart attacks, the longer use of ibuprofen specifically appeared to have no impact on risk.

Use of diclofenac demonstrated a small increased risk for heart attack with longer use.

Use of naproxen for longer than a year was associated with a slight decrease in heart attack risk, but it was not clear if the association was real.

"Our study suggests either no effect or a small reduction of cardiovascular risk during sustained treatment with naproxen, a small increased risk with diclofenac, and an undetectable risk with ibuprofen," Garcia Rodriguez and Gonzalez-Perez wrote.

Ask Your Doctor

The new findings may help to allay the fears of regular ibuprofen or naproxen users. But American Heart Association (AHA) spokesman David Herrington, MD, MHS, says patients should still discuss the long-term use of these drugs with their doctor.

The Wake Forest University cardiology professor co-authored a recent AHA advisory on the use of pain medications.

"We said that people should try to use the simplest and safest medications first in the recommended dosages for the shortest possible period of time," he tells WebMD.

For most people that means aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol), which have the longest and most well-established safety records, he adds.

Ibuprofen, naproxen, and other NSAIDs should be used for chronic pain under a doctor's supervision by people who can't take aspirin or acetaminophen or by those who do not get adequate pain relief with the drugs, the AHA recommends.

"Every treatment decision is a balance of safety and efficacy, and this is certainly no different," Herrington says. "People shouldn't suffer unnecessarily, but it is important that people who take these drugs long term get guidance from a physician."

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