Common painkiller linked to an increased risk of heart problems

Common painkiller linked to an increased risk of heart problems

Common painkiller linked to an increased risk of heart problems

The results are based on national registry data for more than 6.3 million adults in Denmark taken from 1996 to 2016. 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. On average, the participants were aged 46-56.

In 2004, a recently approved painkiller belonging to the widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) class was pulled from the market after investigators revealed that the drug induced an unacceptably high number of heart attacks and stroke-causing blood clots.

The report, which was conducted by researcher Morten Schmidt at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, concludes that patients should try out other NSAIDs before taking pills containing diclofenac as a last resort. Compared with taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, taking diclofenac raised cardiovascular risk by 20 percent.

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They examined the cardiovascular risks of starting diclofenac compared with no NSAIDS, starting other traditional NSAIDs and paracetamol.

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. According to Daily Mail, many parts of the world - including the United Kingdom - have banned diclofenac as an over-the-counter medication because of its adverse effects on the cardiovascular system.

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

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A painkiller prescribed to millions of people can raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 50 per cent - even at low doses, warns new research.

Furthermore, a connection between taking diclofenac and the increased rate of upper gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiac death was found. Among patients at moderate baseline risk, corresponding figures were seven, seven, eight and 14 additional events, respectively, and for those at high baseline risk, corresponding numbers were 16, 10, one and 39 additional events, respectively.

However, while the relative risk increased, the absolute one remained low for the individual patient.

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But the study's sample size is larger than most previous analyses of observational and randomised studies taken together and provides strong evidence to guide clinical decision making.

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