Heart of the Matter

Pile of Ibuprofen tabletsMost of us don’t give over-the-counter pain relievers a lot of thought. If we have a raging headache or our body is hurting – we take a couple of pills and hope that will help us feel a little better. But a new report may change the way we think about some common pain medications.

From NBC News:

Common painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen are already known to raise people’s risk of a heart attack. Now a new study shows the risk comes within the first week of using the drugs.

The study doesn’t mean that everyone should avoid taking the pills to treat headaches, lower fevers and reduce aches and pains, but does suggest people who know they have a bigger-than-average heart attack risk should avoid long-term use and high doses, the researchers said.

According to CNN.com, “Researchers’ overall finding was that taking any dosage of these drugs for one week, one month or longer was linked to an increased risk of a heart attack. The risk appeared to decline when these painkillers were no longer taken, with a slight decline one to 30 days after use and a greater decline, falling below 11%, between 30 days and one year after use.”

Time Magazine put together a short video on the study’s results. You can watch it by clicking here or on the picture below.


CBS News Added, “The study, published in The BMJ, found that all commonly used NSAIDsibuprofen and naproxen, which are available over the counter; and diclofenac and celecoxib, which require prescriptions in the U.S. – were associated with this increased risk.”

Newsmax.com said overall the increased risk of a heart attack was between 20 percent and 50 percent greater for those using NSAIDs than those not taking them. The online publication also quoted researchers as saying:

Given that the onset of risk of acute myocardial infarction [heart attack] occurred in the first week and appeared greatest in the first month of treatment with higher doses, prescribers should consider weighing the risks and benefits of NSAIDs before instituting treatment, particularly for higher doses.

Share your thoughts on this new study and let us know whether it changes the way you think about over-the-counter pain relievers. Generating meaningful conversations about the health stories making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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