A Danish research study found that household painkillers may be putting patients at a higher risk for cardiac arrest.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are one of the two most common classes of drugs administered for pain relief. The three main types of NSAIDS are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, more commonly referred to by their brand names, which include Bayer, Advil, and Aleve, respectively.
Obtaining their data from the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry, the researchers focused on records of patients who experienced cardiac arrest out of the hospital between the years 2001 and 2010. Researchers compared NSAID use between two 30-day periods preceding cardiac arrest.
Ibuprofen was associated with a 31% increased risk of a heart attack, while dioflenac (another major NSAID) was associated with a 50% increased risk. No association between Naproxen and increased risk was determined.
In a press release, professor of cardiology at Copenhagen University Hospital Gunnar Gislaslon said the following: "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.”
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This study did not specifically investigate over-the-counter drug use, because buprofen is the only NSAID that does not require a prescription in Denmark. However, all brands of NSAIDs are available over the counter in the United States, annually accounting for 30 billion medications sold.
As Gislaslon further pointed out, this is not the first study to establish an associated risk with NSAID use. Previous studies have highlighted further associated risk for liver damage as well as stroke.
Gislason reminded the public that “NSAIDs are not harmless” and “should probably be avoided in patients with cardiovascular disease." He further promoted his belief that NSAIDs should only be available at pharmacies, with supply and dosage caps.
As researchers increasingly highlight the risk factors of NSAIDs, the use of diclofenac may decrease in favor of seemingly safer medications, such as naproxen. Physicians and patients may proceed with caution when choosing their next pain reliever, in light of these recent findings.
Source: United Press International. Common painkillers linked to increased risk of cardiac arrest. March 15, 2017.
Sophia Antipolis, 15 March 2017: Painkillers considered harmless by the general public are associated with increased risk of cardiac arrest, according to research published today in the March issue of European Heart Journal - Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.