Published: Sun, September 09, 2018
Medicine | By Debra Reynolds

Prescription Painkiller Boosts Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Prescription Painkiller Boosts Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Alongside heart attacks, the study links diclofenac to cardiovascular disease including arrhythmic heartbeats, ischemic stroke and heart failure.

They suggested diclofenac be prescribed with a warning label attached and banned as an over-the-counter drug in countries like the United States where it's available as such.

The researchers believe that people should finally recognize the potential health risks of the drug and reduce its usage.

Dr Schmidt said: "Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects".

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One of the most widely used painkillers may pose a threat to cardiovascular health.

A widely used analgesic appears to be associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events such as strokes.

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency say diclofenac should not be used by people with serious underlying heart conditions.

Researchers at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark said that diclofenac should not be available over the counter, and when prescribed, should be accompanied by an appropriate front package warning about its potential risks. Migration and mortality data were also gathered from the Danish Civil Registration System and Danish Register of Causes of Death. Then, the researchers followed and studied these individuals for the next two decades from 1996 to 2006.

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A study carried out by researchers in Denmark looked at nearly 1,400,000 patients who were started on diclofenac between 1996 and 2016, as well as patients who were initiated on other types of NSAIDs and patients who weren't initiated on any NSAIDs. The study included more than 1.37 million diclofenac users, 3.87 million taking ibuprofen, 291,490 using naproxen, 764,781 paracetamol users and 1.3 million using no pain relievers. The average age was 46-49 years among NSAID initiators, and 56 years among those who started taking paracetamol.

Diclofenac, a widely used global drug with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious cardiovascular problems, so its use should be done with moderation rather than for a long time.

Daily Mail reported that researchers found that the increased risks applied to men and women of all ages and also to those who are taking low doses of the ingredient. 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.

And compared to those using ibuprofen, the risk of using diclofenac increased by 20%.

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