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Heart-related Problems Associated with NSAIDs

Taking certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may increase the risks of dying from heart-related causes, according to a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Taking certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may increase the risks of dying from heart-related causes, according to a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

The study reported that some NSAIDs are associated with greater risks of heart attacks and strokes in otherwise healthy people.

"Even though the frequency of these effects is quite low, they are still important," said Emil Loldrup Fosbøl, M.D., study author and research fellow in the Department of Cardiology at Gentofte University Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark, in a news release. "People should at a minimum be aware that this is a problem."

The researchers compared medical outcomes from 1997 to 2005 of healthy Danish residents taking prescription NSAIDs and those that did not. The participants were deemed healthy by the researchers if they had not been in contact with the Danish nationalized hospital system for the five years before their first NSAID prescription and if they had no prescriptions for serious medical problems two years before the study. The team evaluated medical records of 1,028,437 healthy people over age 10. The median age was 39.

The results were that Ibuprofen use was associated with a 29% greater risk of fatal or non-fatal stroke, Diclofenac was associated with a 91% greater risk of cardiovascular death, and Rofecoxib was associated with a 66% increased risk of cardiovascular death.

The risk of having a heart attack was two times higher for those taking the highest doses of diclofenac, and three times higher for those taking the highest-level doses of rofecoxib. Naproxen, however, was not associated with increases in heart-related problems, which led researchers to suggest the drug be considered as a safer choice.