London: Many people are prescribed NSAIDs for the treatment of painful conditions, fever and inflammation. But the treatment also comes with side effects, including the risk of ulcers and increased blood pressure.
A new study shows that arthritis medicine is particularly dangerous for heart patients, and also that older types of arthritis medicine, which have not previously been in focus, also appear to be dangerous for the heart.
“It’s been well-known for a number of years that newer types of NSAIDs — what are known as COX-2 inhibitors, increase the risk of heart attacks. For this reason, a number of these newer types of NSAIDs have been taken off the market again,” says Morten Schmidt from Aarhus University.
Schmidt further says, “We can now see that some of the older NSAID types, particularly Diclofenac, are also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and apparently to the same extent as several of the types that were taken off the market.”
He adds, “This is worrying, because these older types of medicine are frequently used throughout the western world and in many countries available without prescription.”
The study, which was carried out in collaboration between 14 European universities and hospitals, including a number of leading European heart specialists, has been published in the European Heart Journal.
In the study, the researchers have gathered all research on the use of NSAIDs in patients with heart disease. The survey means that the European Society of Cardiology has now for the first time formulated a number of recommendations about what doctors should consider before prescribing painkillers to their patients.
“When doctors issue prescriptions for NSAIDs, they must in each individual case carry out a thorough assessment of the risk of heart complications and bleeding. NSAIDs should only be sold over the counter when it comes with an adequate warning about the associated cardiovascular risks. In general, NSAIDs are not be used in patients who have or are at high-risk of cardiovascular diseases,” says Christian Torp-Pedersen of Aalborg University, Denmark.
NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) is used to treat a wide range of diseases, in particular disorders in the muscular and bone system, where the drug counteracts swelling, pain and limitations in movement associated with inflammation.