January 17, 2019

Common painkiller linked to an increased risk of heart problems

09 September 2018, 04:56 | Rodolfo Wallace

The relatively increased risk was seen across the board, including in people who took a lower dose as well as those with no existing history of cardiovascular disease.

Experts have analyzed the cardiovascular risks that come together with diclofenac compared to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs", explain the authors, "may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects".

The latest research comes a year after a decade-long Danish study found ibuprofen, commonly sold as Nurofen and Advil, had been associated with a 31 per cent increased risk of cardiac arrest.

Are you anxious the medication you take could be impacting your overall health negatively?

There was an increased incidence of serious cardiovascular events among those who had taken diclofenac for one month.

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As it is used mostly to treat inflammations and pains, diclofenac, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, also known as NSAID, is broadly consumed all over the world.

Alongside heart attacks, the study links diclofenac to cardiovascular disease including arrhythmic heartbeats, ischemic stroke and heart failure. During the follow-up period, between 1996-2016, the scientists eliminated other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in the subjects who participated in the study.

The adverse event rate among diclofenac initiators increased 50 percent compared with non-medication users, 20 percent compared with paracetamol or ibuprofen initiators and 30 percent compared with naproxen initiators.

But its cardiovascular risks compared with those of other traditional NSAIDs have never been examined in large randomized controlled trials, and current concerns about these risks make such trials unethical to conduct. The authors then compared the documented health issues that arose within 30 days in individuals given a course of diclofenac (1.3 million people) to those of 3.8 million people given ibuprofen, 291,490 given naproxen, 764,781 people given the non-NSAID pain reliever paracetamol, and 1.3 million people not prescribed any drug at all. "In conclusion, our data support that initiation of diclofenac poses a cardiovascular health risk, both compared with no use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional NSAIDs", they state. Among patients at moderate baseline risk, corresponding figures were seven, seven, eight and 14 additional events, respectively, and for those at high baseline risk, corresponding numbers were 16, 10, one and 39 additional events, respectively.

However, researchers point out that, while the relative risk increased significantly, the overall risk was still pretty small. But even so, researchers say that the risk is not really justified.

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