BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A new study performed by researchers in Denmark discovered that common painkillers might lead to a higher risk of cardiac arrest. This adds to previous findings which also showed a link between painkillers and other heart problems, such as stroke, heart attack, or heart failure.
Painkillers are not harmless
The study, published in the European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy found that the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, were linked to a higher risk of cardiac arrest. This is the first study to look specifically at the impact of NSAID use and their relation to cardiac arrest and cardiovascular diseases.
Researchers said that this should be a warning for people that NSAIDs were not harmless. They advise people to take the lowest dose possible and not exceed six tablets of 200 mg of ibuprofen per day. Also, people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and who have a high blood pressure should not take NSAIDs without talking to a doctor first.
This particular study is actually what is known as “case period”. Thus, the researchers looked at 28,000 people who suffered a cardiac arrest in other places than a hospital during a period of ten years. They analyzed the patients’ use of NSAIDs 30 days before the cardiac event occurred and compared it to their use during another period of 30 days.
NSAIDs raised the cardiac arrest risk
Results showed that 3,376 people were treated with NSAIDs in those 30 days before suffering a cardiac arrest. Ibuprofen was involved in 31 percent of the cases, while diclofenac showed a 50 percent increase of the cardiac arrest risk. Naproxen, celecoxib, or rofecoxib were not found related to cardiovascular risk, but researchers suspected that this happened because they were less common.
NSAIDs were indeed found to be related to a higher cardiac arrest risk. However, the researchers did not find clear evidence that painkillers caused the fatal event. The study compared the painkiller use of the patients during the case period and their use during another random period. Also, there are many other factors involved which could have caused the cardiac arrest and differ among people, such as the presence of other diseases.
Another downside of the study was the fact that the researchers only accounted for the prescription drugs that the patients had taken. They did not know of any other painkillers that they could have acquired over the counter.
NSAIDs might not be the direct cause of cardiac arrest, but they indeed pose a risk for people with cardiovascular diseases and no one should take them in higher doses than it is recommended.
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