Popular NSAID pain reliever linked to serious heart health risk

It's always important to discuss medication and the potential risks it will have on your health with a GP or health professional.

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects", they write.

The study ran from 1996 to 2016, during which time researchers found that starting diclofenac use caused an increased risk of serious cardiac events taking place within 30 days of starting the substance; this compared to taking other common NSAIDs or acetaminophen. But even so, researchers say that the risk is not really justified. Diclofenac is a traditional NSAID that has similar selectivity for cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX 2) as COX 2 inhibitors, but the cardiovascular risks of diclofenac in comparison with other traditional NSAIDs have not been investigated through a randomized controlled trial.

Diclofenac is a component frequently found in painkillers used to treat back pain, sciatica and arthritis. Some researchers suggest the risk means the drug should only be available as a prescription.

These population-based registries allowed the team to emulate the level and depth of data that would be collected through a controlled clinical trial.

Dr Morten Schmidt, of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, is now urging for the drug to come with a warning - and that other countries should copy the United Kingdom and make it prescription only. The overall risk for each individual patient, though, was found to be low. The average age of participants was 46-49 years among those beginning NSAIDs and 56 years among those starting paracetamol.

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According to a recent study, the painkiller diclofenac could be associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.

However it is still available over the counter in Australia in low doses.

And compared to those using ibuprofen, the risk of using diclofenac increased by 20%.

The risk of gastrointestinal bleeding at 30 days increased 4.5-fold in patients who started diclofenac compared to those who didn't. They are now advocating that low dose ibuprofen or naproxen should be considered as comparators.

Ever since then, medical researchers have remained on high alert; wondering if any other drugs in this class - which includes aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve) - should be abandoned due to their cardiovascular risks.

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