For the past year, tens of millions of arthritis pain sufferers worldwide have been utterly confused and frustrated by the ever-widening debacle involving the under-disclosed cardiovascular risks of the painkillers they have come to rely on. Now, these victims of chronic pain are faced with yet another dilemma as ibuprofen, one of the few remaining pain medications that had been regarded as "safe," has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack.
Previously, the entire Cox-2 inhibitor family of painkillers (Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex, Mobic, etc.) has been associated with increased rates of first-time heart attacks. Naproxen-related NSAIDs, too, have been added to the drugs associated with this same risk. With patients desperately searching for a safe drug to alleviate their pain, over-the-counter ibuprofen had dramatically increased in popularity. A study released yesterday, however, will no doubt throw the entire world of painkillers into chaos once again.
This latest study by Drs. Julia Hippisley-Cox and Carol Coupland of the University of Nottingham, UK, published in the British Medical Journal, analyzed medical data from over 95,000 individuals. The conclusion reached was that there was a varying increased risk of first-time heart attack (especially in those 65 and older) with all of the painkillers considered including the Cox-2 inhibitors, ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen, and other selective and non-selective NSAIDs.
The researchers concluded that their findings were significant enough to warrant a reconsideration of the cardiovascular safety of all NSAIDs. (Significantly, a study published last week by researchers at the University of Southern California claimed to have linked ibuprofen to an increased risk of breast cancer.)