Common painkiller may increase heart attack, stroke risk

Common painkiller may increase heart attack, stroke risk

"Diclofenac poses a cardiovascular health risk compared with non-use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs", explain the authors. Although it is not well-known it the United States, it is the most widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID in the world. Some research has suggested the drug could raise the risk of cardiovascular complications, similar to the now-withdrawn NSAID rofecoxib, which was pulled from the market in 2004, five years after it was widely approved.

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

Study researcher Morten Schmidt, from Aarhus University Hospital, and colleagues looked at the medical records of over 6 million adults in Denmark spanning the period between 1996 and 2016.

There was an increased incidence of serious cardiovascular events among those who had taken diclofenac for one month. They were also about twice as likely to develop problems than people who took other NSAIDs or acetaminophen.

The increased risks applied to men and women of all ages and also at low doses of diclofenac, researchers said. On the other hand, paracetamol, another common painkiller, as well as ibuprofen, showed reduced risks of heart problems, compared with diclofenac.

While the 50 per cent figure is scary-sounding, it's worth keeping in mind the absolute risk is still fairly small.

Researchers have found that diclofenac is associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

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Participants were split into low, moderate, and high baseline cardiovascular risk.

While the researchers did acknowledge this was an observational study, they also noted the sample sizes they used were larger than what has been used with previous research on the same subject.

The authors say their results also indicate that using diclofenac as a reference for demonstrating the safety of selective COX-2 inhibitors represents "a potential flaw in safety trials".

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

The study explored the cardiovascular risk of one prescription drug Diclofenac and found it can cause serious problems for heart patients if taken for an extended period of time.

The European Society of Cardiology therefore carried out an extensive review of existing research that concluded that nonaspirin NSAIDs should not be prescribed to individuals at high risk of heart disease, nor should they be sold over the counter without issuing an "appropriate warning of their frequent cardiovascular complications".

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