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Stroke risk increased by antidepressants/painkiller combo

Stroke risk increased by antidepressants/painkiller combo

Those who take painkillers alongside antidepressants are more likely to have a stroke, according to a new study.

A large group of individuals were monitored and it was discovered that people taking the two drugs at the same time were around four times more at risk of suffering an intracranial haemorrhage than those who took just antidepressants. An intracranial haemorrhage is when there's a bleed on the brain, which could lead to a fatal stroke.

South Korean researchers looked into four million people who were taking antidepressants for the first time. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - painkillers that include aspirin and ibuprofen - which are taken to treat problems such as back ache and arthritis were more prone to causing brain bleeds than other pain relief options.

The experts noted that because chronic pain is often a trigger for depression, it's not unusual for people to be taking medication to ease their symptoms. However they warn that doctors should be more wary of the possible outcome and quiz patients on whether they are on anti-depressants first.

"Special attention is needed when patients use both these drugs together," the researchers from the Korea Institute of Drug Safety explained.

On top of this, NSAIDs have already been linked to stomach bleeds when taken with antidepressants.

"Most worryingly, conditions requiring NSAIDs and antidepressants commonly co-exist; 65 per cent of adults with depression also have chronic pain. I think this is important information to give GPs. I think we need to make sure that people know there is a risk," Professor Jill Morrison of the University of Glasgow and her colleagues from Cambridge University noted in an accompanying essay.

"It's a very small risk but it's a risk and it's not just prescribed painkillers but people might be taking ibuprofen or aspirin or something like that they have bought over the counter."

Results were published in the British Medical Journal.

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