Popular painkillers linked to heart disease
Researchers from University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy found taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can lead to patients suffering heart failure.
Two of the most common NSAIDs, ibuprofen and naproxen, are available in Britain without prescription and are used by millions to help cope with everything from a hangover to chronic pain.
The study found that NSAIDs may increase the risk of heart problems by 18 percent. However, diclofenac, a painkiller often prescribed to relieve the joint pain associated with conditions like arthritis, may double the risk of heart disease.
Dr Giovanni Corrao, the author of the research told, The Daily Telegraph, “This study offers further evidence that the most frequently used individual traditional painkillers are associated with an increased risk of hospital admission for heart failure. Moreover, the risk seems to vary between drugs and according to the dose.”
The huge study surveyed almost 10 million painkiller users from Britain, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.
Occasional users of NSAIDs without other health conditions are thought to be least at risk of developing heart problems.
However the new research has caused experts to advise those who regularly buy the painkillers over the counter to carefully assess whether to use them.
Medical experts have also called on doctors to be careful when prescribing NSAIDs to those patients who are at highest risk of developing heart problems, such as the elderly.
“Since heart and joint problems often coexist, particularly in the elderly, this study serves as a reminder to doctors to consider carefully how they prescribe NSAIDs, and to patients that they should only take the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time,” Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said.