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Pain Management Health Center

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Common Painkillers Raise Heart Death Risk

Ibuprofen Increases Stroke Risk; Diclofenac as Risky as Vioxx, Study Finds

Ibuprofen Heart Risk continued...

However, all NSAIDS, including naproxen, increase the risk of potentially fatal bleeding.

Previous studies of NSAID risk examined people with underlying health conditions. The Fosbol study differs. Because detailed medical records are available for everyone in Denmark, the researchers were able to study NSAID risk in more than a million healthy people from 1997 to 2005.

Although NSAIDs increased the risk of death from heart disease, the risk was small. Among the 1,028,437 people who took NSAIDs, there were 769 deaths from heart disease and stroke.

Even so, the finding that NSAIDs increase heart risk in relatively healthy people is important, says Howard S. Weintraub, MD, clinical director of the NYU Langone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.

"This could have far-reaching implications, as many individuals rely on these drugs for pain relief," Weintraub says in a news release. "It is likely that sporadic, non-sustained use of NSAIDs in low doses for pain relief will remain safe, while more chronic use of higher doses may have to be questioned."

What about people already taking NSAIDs for chronic pain?

"For patients regularly taking an NSAID now -- whether it's prescription or OTC -- it is advisable to discuss with your physician why it was originally recommended or prescribed, whether you need to continue taking it, and at what dose," Antman says.

The Fosbol study appears in the June 8 online edition of the AHA journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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