Pain Killers Up Risks Of Heart Attack: Better Think Twice Before Taking That Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen, one of the commonly used medicines to cure headaches or backaches, holds the chance to increase the threat of cardiac arrest.

 Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are among the most frequently used painkillers worldwide and are available in pharmacies without any prescription.


The use of NSAIDs can cause platelet aggregation that leads to blood clots, arteries to contract, increased fluid retention and increased blood pressure.

According to a new study, NSAIDs hold the highest chances of causing heart ailments, stroke, heart failure, as well as high blood pressure.

"Allowing these drugs to be purchased without a prescription, and without any advice or restrictions, sends a message to the public that they must be safe," said Gunnar H.Gislason, professor at Copenhagen University Hospital Center and also the author of the study.

The Study

In order to get an in-depth knowledge about the possible risks that can take place when using NSAIDs, a study was conducted to find out the relationship between the use of these drugs and cardiac arrest.

For the purpose of the study, details of patients who suffered a heart attack outside the hospital between 2000 and 2010 in Denmark were collected from the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry.

Data were also collected on all NSAID prescriptions from Danish pharmacies starting 1995. The prescriptions included both non-selective NSAIDs such as diclofenac, ibuprofen, and some COZ 2 selective inhibitors such as celecoxib and rofecoxib.

How Was The Study Conducted?

In order to establish the link between the use of NSAID and heart ailments, a case-time control design was used in the study. Each of the participants was used both as the case and also the control for two different time periods, which lead to the elimination of the confusion due to chronic comorbidities.

Patients who took the NSAID 30 days before the heart attack (case period) was compared with the patients who took the NSAID drugs preceding the 30 days without any heart cardiac arrest (control period).

Result Of The Study

Out of the 28,947 patients diagnosed with an out-of-hospital heart attack in Denmark, 3,376 were treated with NSAID at least 30 days prior to the attack. Diclofenac and Ibuprofen were found to be the commonly used NSAIDs in the attack cases, with the former counting up to 51 percent and the latter covering 22 percent of NSAID usage.

Consumption of any kind of NSAID was found to have increased risk of heart attack by 31 percent, where diclofenac and ibuprofen contributed up to 50 percent and 31 percent of increased risk of cardiac arrest respectively.

According to Professor Gislason, selling of these drugs in places such as supermarket and petrol stations should be strictly banned and should be only made available in the medicine shops in low doses.

The research has been published in the European Heart Journal - Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.

Photo: Tim Sackton | Flickr 

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