Painkillers commonly used by millions of people may increase risk of heart failure. Findings of a new study have found that use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen has been linked to increased likelihood of getting admitted to the hospital due to heart problem.
NSAIDs are painkilling drugs that are commonly used by people who suffer from backache, joint problems and arthritis. Doctors prescribe them to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
For the new study, which was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Sept. 28, researchers looked at the data of almost 10 million users of NSAIDs in UK, Italy, Germany and Netherlands who started NSAID treatment between the years 2000 and 2010. More than 92,000 hospital admissions for heart failure occurred in the group.
The researchers found that those who have taken any NSAID in the previous 14 days were 19 percent more likely to get hospitalized for heart failure than those who used the treatment at any point in the past.
The risk of admission due to heart failure was also found to have increased for intake of seven traditional NSAIDs namely diclofenac, indomethacin, ibuprofen, ketorolac, nimesulide, naproxen and piroxicam and COX 2 inhibitors etoricoxib and rofecoxib.
Increased likelihood for hospital admission was particularly high in those who used naproxen whose risks range from 16 percent to ketorolac at 83 percent.
"The risk seems to vary between drugs and according to the dose," study researcher Giovanni Corrao, from the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy, and colleagues wrote in their study.
Because most of the participants in the study were older and those who used NSAIDs were generally in poor condition, health experts said that the results have little relevance for most people under 65 years old.
The findings, however, may pose concern for elderly patients. Helen Williams, Royal Pharmaceutical Society consultant pharmacist for cardiovascular disease, said that the focus should be on older patients with health conditions that can place them at increased risk for heart failure.
"Hypertension, diabetes, maybe kidney problems - it's in those patients when we add these drugs on top that there might be a small increase in their risk," Williams said.
Williams said that younger patients who use ibuprofen for short periods such as those who take the medicines for sports injuries, aches and pain, need not be worried but she warned those who use the drugs regularly.
She said that these people need to be supervised by a clinician since there are issues with use of these drugs.