High Doses of Painkillers Increase Stroke and Cardiac Risks

January 12, 2011

When taken in high doses, painkillers like Ibuprofen may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

When taken in high doses, painkillers like Ibuprofen may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to a review published in the British Medical Journal.

The review, titled “Cardiovascular safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: network meta-analysis” was performed by researchers from Bern University in Switzerland.

The team analyzed a number of clinical trials, involving more than 116,000 patients. The goal was to report on the health effects of commonly used painkillers, such as NSAIDs, and anti-inflammatory drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors.

More specifically the team studied naproxen, ibuprofen, diclofenac, celecoxib, etoricoxib, rofecoxib, and lumiracoxib.

The data demonstrated that the drugs carried risks that were not shown in placebo. For example, Rofecoxib and lumicoxib were associated with twice the risk of heart attack and ibuprofen demonstrated three times the risk of stroke. Four-times the risk of cardiovascular death was associated with Arcoxia and the generic drug diclofenac. Naproxen was shown to be the safest pain killer for those with osteoarthritis, in terms of stroke and cardiac risks.

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