Study: Painkillers After a Heart Attack May Be Risky

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People who have survived a heart attack may want to reconsider taking painkillers known as NSAIDs, says a recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. According to the research, the commonly used painkillers may boost patients’ risk of second heart attack and death.

NSAIDs, for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, include prescription drugs such as Celebrex (celecoxib) as well as over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Previous research has linked these pain relievers to a higher risk of heart-related death, but the current study suggests the risk may persist for at least five years.

(MORE: New Testing Strategy Could Help Diagnose Heart Attacks in an Hour)

Researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte in Denmark identified nearly 100,000 heart attack survivors aged 30 or older who suffered their first heart attack between 1997 and 2009, and looked into whether or not they were prescribed NSAIDs afterward. Among the participants, 44% filled at least one NSAID prescription.

Those taking the drugs had a 59% higher risk of death from any cause one year after their heart attack and a 63% higher risk within five years afterward. Additionally, participants had a higher risk (30%) of having a second heart attack, or dying of heart disease, one year later. That risk was 41% higher after five years.

The finding is significant given that heart attack survivors’ elevated risk of second heart attack or heart-related death in the year after a first event typically tapers off within five to 10 years.

(MORE: Rethinking the Framingham Score: Is There a Better Way to Predict Heart Disease?)

“The results support previous findings suggesting that NSAIDs have no apparent safe treatment window among heart attack patients, and show that coronary risk related to using the drugs remains high, regardless of the time that has passed since the heart attack,” said study author Dr. Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen in a statement. “Allowing a drug to be sold without prescription must be perceived by the general public as a strong signal of safety, and may be contrary in this case.”

NSAIDs may increase heart attack risk by causing blood to clot more easily. These clots can block arteries and may encourage a heart attack. In 2007, the American Heart Association issued a warning about long-term use of NSAIDs, stating more research is needed on their heart safety.

Although the new study was observational and doesn’t prove that NSAID use causes second heart attacks or death, the authors conclude that their use should be reduced overall, and that regulators may want to reevaluate their over-the-counter availability.

After a heart attack, patients are usually prescribed aspirin — also an NSAID — but the authors note that aspirin is good for the heart and that the new findings don’t apply to that drug.

MORE: Moderate Coffee Consumption Lowers Heart Failure Risk

4 comments
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misterdanton
misterdanton

I had been looking up peiorisosis stuff and it redirected me to other things involving old english people, plus I heard that the first dissections were done by a guy named vladimir in russia after hangings and stuff, butt anyhow, heartattacks and ciggarettes and food , theres' the problemo...you know what I'm saying, I still think its not a matter of upper or lower but more likely big and small, though I only analyze, I am not a specialist.and I'm not learning from clandestine oriental professionals, and don't have chameleon like capabilities, so whesee me in a weight room using the gym, I won't appear bald in spandex...know what I'm sayin. and vagina muscle milk is not a good product. I'de revert back to tigermilk bars before I endorsed that stuff.oh, and you are nuts, not me..no doy.

Blenda
Blenda

Interesting that aspirin is still good for the heart. Once again it proves to be the wonder drug.

misterdanton
misterdanton

definitively, its better for your septum and spine.