Common painkiller may increase heart attack, stroke risk

Sep 09, 2018, 04:56
Common painkiller may increase heart attack, stroke risk

The study included more than 6.3 million adults with an average age of 46-49 in Denmark with at least one year of continuous prescription records from 1996 to 2016. "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".

Diclofenac is the most commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in low, middle, and high income countries, and it is prescribed to millions of people in the United Kingdom every year.

The research team, led by Dr Morten Schmidt from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark examined starting the use of the drug compared with no NSAIDS, beginning the use paracetamol and starting other traditional NSAID drugs.

For those with the lowest baseline risk, starting diclofenac was associated with one extra event per 1000 patients per year, compared with those starting ibuprofen or naproxen; three extra events compared with those starting paracetamol; and four extra events compared with those taking no NSAIDs.

'Considering its cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, however, there is little justification to initiate diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs, ' they said in a statement. Still, authors said other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be considered before the use of Diclofenac.

Diclofenac, a widely used worldwide 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.

A painkiller prescribed to millions of people can raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 50 per cent - even at low doses, warns new research.

In those who took diclofenac for 30 days, the risk rose by a huge 50% - compared to those not taking any drugs.

Diclofenac is found in Voltaren, Arthrotec, and more treatments. Then, the researchers followed and studied these individuals for the next two decades from 1996 to 2006.

Starting diclofenac was also associated with an increased rate of cardiac death compared with no NSAIDs, and an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding compared with no NSAIDs, starting ibuprofen or paracetamol, but not with naproxen.

The additional cardiovascular events increased further in the high-risk group, with extra cardiovascular events seen in 39 out of 1000 patients per year, compared with no NSAIDs. The overall risk for each individual patient, though, was found to be low.

While the researchers did acknowledge this was an observational study, they also noted the sample sizes they used were larger than what has been used with previous research on the same subject.

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