A Popular Painkiller Ingredient Increases Risks Of Heart Attack By 50%

Ben Davidson
September 8, 2018

A review by European health officials confirmed the finding, and said patients should no longer use diclofenac if they have a heart condition, or have previously suffered heart attacks or strokes.

The gastrointestinal and cardiovascular risks associated with the treatment, however, does not justify initiating diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs.

A 2017 study showed that the risk of heart among those who use NSAIDs is more pronounced when the drug is taken in high daily doses.

When results were analyzed by baseline cardiovascular risk, the absolute number of events per 1,000 diclofenac starters per year also increased. With paracetamol, the difference is also huge - heart disease can be traced in the dynamics of the three times more than those who chose to Diclofenac.

Cardiologist Dr Morten Schmidt, of Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, said: "Diclofenac poses a cardiovascular health risk compared with non-use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs".

The study included more than 6.3 million adults with an average age of 46-49 in Denmark with at least one year of continuous prescription records from 1996 to 2016. But even so, researchers say that the risk is not really justified.

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The researchers advised that diclofenac should come with front of package warnings about its risks after the study found that patients who started diclofenac were at a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular events - such as heart failure, heart attack or atrial fibrillation - in the 30 days after starting the drug compared with those not taking the drug. The risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding at 30 days of diclofenac use was similar to that associated with naproxen, but was 4.5-fold higher than it was among patients who didn't take NSAIDs and 2.5-fold higher than for paracetamol, or ibuprofen initiators.

For years, however, doctors have been anxious about diclofenac's potential heart risks.

As it is used mostly to treat inflammations and pains, diclofenac, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, also known as NSAID, is broadly consumed all over the world.

A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology focusing on 57,000 people residing in Taiwan also found that taking painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen could be linked to having an irregular heartbeat.

They said in the paper: 'Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects. They also think that it should not be made available over the counter anymore.

Its cardiovascular risks compared with those of other traditional NSAIDs have never been examined in large randomised controlled trials.

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