Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Older Women: Some Painkillers May Raise Heart Risk

Class of drugs that includes naproxen linked to increased chance of heart attack, stroke, but finding not conclusive


The study is published in the July issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

In the study, NSAIDs were sorted into three categories: those that selectively inhibit cox-2, those that appear to inhibit cox-2 more than cox-1, and those that appear to inhibit cox-1 more than cox-2.

The researchers then reviewed medical data for more than 160,000 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, a set of clinical trials launched in 1991 to test the effects of hormone therapy. The trials required women to report use of prescription and nonprescription medications.

Within this group of women, naproxen was the most widely used NSAID that inhibited cox-2 more than cox-1, while ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) was the most widely used NSAID that inhibited cox-1 more than cox-2.

"Although there are other agents that are in this analysis, our findings are largely applied to naproxen and ibuprofen since they were such a wide part of our study sample," Bavry said.

The doctors found a moderately increased risk of heart attack and stroke associated with use of both selective cox-2 inhibitors and those NSAIDs that affect cox-2 more than cox-1. Use of NSAIDS that inhibit cox-1, including ibuprofen, appeared to have no effect at all on heart attack or stroke risk.

Women should discuss this research with their doctor to decide whether naproxen is right for them, Bavry said.

"Many people think that naproxen is the safer NSAID," he said. "This study is counter to our previous understanding of these agents, and signals to me that we need to further research these agents for safely treating chronic pain syndromes in women."

Antman agreed that everyone should talk with their doctor if they regularly use NSAIDs.

"Please inform your physician about all medications you take, even over-the-counter medications, and do not routinely use NSAIDs for an extended period of time," he said.

But people should be careful drawing conclusions from this latest finding, Antman added. The study was not a randomized trial, he noted, and the available data left some important questions unanswered.

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror