Patients Unaware of NSAID Risk Factors

Four in five Australians who use oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are unaware of the potential risk factors.

A survey conducted in Australia reveals that four in five patients who use oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are unaware of the potential risk factors associated with taking the analgesics.

Among these risk factors are heart problems or heart disease. Additionally, the survey, conducted by Pure Profile, reveals that 50% of those using oral NSAIDs have been diagnosed with a heart condition, such as heart disease or stroke, or have a direct family member who has been diagnosed with such a condition¹ - despite this being a precaution for use.

However, in an apparent contradiction, six in 10 or 59% of people who most often use oral NSAIDs claimed to read the directions for use of the packaging before purchase.

"These results suggest that people aren't fully informed about the medicines they are taking despite claiming to read the packaging," said PSA National President Warwick Plunkett, in a press release.

"It's important for those at higher risk, such as those with heart disease, or who have a family history of heart disease, to be more vigilant regarding the type of pain relievers they are using."

Less than half (49%) of people who most often use oral NSAIDs believe there are any potential health risks with using the analgesics.

"It's important to reassure consumers that over-the-counter pain relievers are safe and effective if used appropriately. However, for people who have been diagnosed with a heart condition - or have a family history of heart disease - taking paracetamol is a safer alternative than NSAIDs for pain relief," Plunkett said.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of Australia's largest health problems, affecting more than 3.4 million Australians.

"Considering the high incidence of heart disease in Australia, it's important for people with identifiable risk factors to take all necessary precautions - including using pain relievers that are most suitable for them," Plunkett said.

"The good news from the research is that people who have been diagnosed with a heart condition, or had a direct family member who has been diagnosed, are more likely to ask their pharmacist for advice before purchasing oral, over-the-counter pain relievers compared to those who have not.”

"However, I would encourage all Australians unsure about whether or not they should use a particular pain reliever to speak to their pharmacist - or other healthcare professional - before use," Plunkett concluded.

The survey included 1004 responses. The survey was conducted among a nationally representative population sample of men and women 18 years of age and over.

Source: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia--Based on the survey results, will you discuss NSAIDs risk factors with your patients?

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