Do painkillers hurt your heart?
Long-term use of certain painkillers may raise health risks
By Czerne M. Reid
Painkillers such as ibuprofen, naxopren and celecoxib provide needed relief for many patients who have chronic pain. But an ongoing source of contention is whether those drugs and others in their class known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are linked to harmful health effects.
A new UF study raises the concern about potential risks to a higher degree than before, finding a doubling of deaths from heart attack, stroke and related events among people who have both hypertension and coronary artery disease and use the drugs long term.
The findings, based on data from the international INVEST clinical study of hypertension therapies, are published in The American Journal of Medicine.
“It does strengthen our practice recommendations,” said lead author Anthony A. Bavry, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine in the College of Medicine department of medicine.
Physicians already discourage the use of NSAIDs among the elderly and after heart attacks, on the basis of several studies showing that the drugs are linked with a higher risk of stroke and heart attack.
But the UF researchers, including senior author Carl J. Pepine, M.D., a professor of cardiovascular medicine in the UF College of Medicine, advise patients to talk to their doctors before stopping use of prescribed treatments.
Patients who have both high blood pressure and coronary artery disease are generally put on aspirin, a unique type of NSAID, to reduce their risk of a heart attack. Physicians are concerned that giving those patients other NSAIDs for pain relief could cancel out aspirin’s beneficial effects and raise the risk of negative cardiovascular effects.