Side Effects of NSAIDS Dangerous for Heart Patients

<"">NSAIDs are the most popularly used and prescribed medication. A dangerous fact, considering that patients suffering from cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure and who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are at increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and death. Study results appear in this month’s American Journal of Medicine.

We’ve previously discussed that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as over-the-counter Aleve, Motrin, Advil, aspirin, and ibuprofen and prescription medications that include COX-2 inhibitors including Celebrex (generic: celecoxib), have been linked to increased risks for heart failure, death, and even erectile dysfunction (ED).

“Among coronary artery disease patients with hypertension, chronic self-reported use of NSAIDs was associated with harmful outcomes, and this practice should be avoided where possible,” said Dr. Anthony A. Bavry, assistant professor in the division of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Florida, Gainesville, quoted US News.

Bavry and his team reviewed 882 long-term NSAID users and 22,000 casual NSAID users, noted US News. The review revealed that those diagnosed with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease who regularly took the medications, experienced a 47% increased fatality risk as well as increased risks for heart attack and stroke that did not result in death, said US News. After five years, the figures significantly increased: 126 % for death, 66 % for heart attack, said the researchers.

Because insufficient information exists to clarify why NSAID takers with heart disease and high blood pressure are at increased risk for these reactions, the study authors suggest alternatives for pain relief, said US News. For instance, Dr. Howard S. Weintraub, clinical director of the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, commented on the study. “It is taken from a large group of patients with coronary artery disease in a generally older population…. But the findings seem to cast more concern about the safety of NSAIDs in higher risk patients. It is notable that the risk increased with higher blood pressure,” quoted US News.

Dr. Victor Khabie, co-chief of the Orthopedics and Spine Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York, said, “as an orthopedic sports medicine specialist I see a lot of baby boomers who use NSAIDs to ease their joint pain with sports,” quoted US News. Dr. Khabie, suggested alternatives be considered and that, “Sports medicine specialists should be aware of the potential risk NSAIDs cause in this patient population and counsel their patients appropriately.”

Prior research reported by US News discussed research that linked the ubiquitous painkillers with atrial fibrillation, a cardiac disorder that involves heart rhythm issues linked to increased stroke risks. The study appeared online in the July 4 issue of the journal BMJ. Also, the prior 2002 California Men’s Health Study enrolled what MedScape previously described as a “large, ethnically diverse cohort” of men from Kaiser Permanente’s managed care health plans ages 45-69. That study found a clear ED link to NSAIDs.

In 2004, the COX-2 inhibitor (rofecoxib) was withdrawn from the market after a trial found that the drug increased risks for cardiovascular disease. Since, there has been much debate about the cardiovascular safety of COX-2 inhibitors and traditional NSAIDs. US News also previously pointed out that a study published in the July 2010 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that healthy people taking NSAIDs for routine pain could be at increased risks for heart issues and death. Also, said US News, a 2011 review of prevailing research revealed that NSAIDs taken for inflammation can increase risks for heart attack, stroke, or death. That research looked at a review of 31 clinical NSAID trials and suggested that cardiovascular risks should be reviewed before prescribing NSAIDs. The study appeared in this January’s BMJ.

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