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January 25, 2012 –A new study has found that common painkillers may significantly increase a user’s risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart disease.

The risk is not significant if you take the pills occasionally or only for short periods of time. People who suffer from chronic pain and take large amounts may want to seek the advice of a physician about using another type of painkiller.

The researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland analyzed data from 116,429 patients who had been taking a painkilling medication and participating in a clinical trial. The researchers gathered data from 31 clinical studies. They looked at information on seven types of common painkillers.

Ibuprofen is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). These are some of the most widely-used medications in the world, and include aspirin, naproxen, and many more. They are commonly used to treat mild or moderate pain, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation, reduce fever, and more.

The study found the following results:

  • The NSAID medication ibuprofen at high doses for long periods of time was shown to triple the risk of stroke. The risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart-related condition was also increased.
  • The NSAID medication Rhumalgan (diclofenac) is used by many to threat athritis. At high doses for long periods of time, it has been shown to increase the risk of death caused by heart disease by a four-fold rate. It also triples with risk of having a stroke.

A “high dose” of these medications means taking up to 2,000 mg per day, every day. This usually means taking three or four pills every day. The people who had an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and death had been taking the high doses for months and even years.

Fortunately, most people who take these medications are not affected. The risk is not greater for people who take the medications for the occasional headache, or even for people who take high doses for short periods due to acute pain. People who suffer from chronic pain, however, may have an increased risk.

The group of people that is most likely to be affected by this research is people who suffer from chronic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which are painful conditions that occur when the body’s own inflammatory response attacks the delicate lining between the joints. Taking an NSAID can reduce pain and symptoms by inhibiting the body’s inflammation response. Some people who suffer from this debilitating, extremely painful condition take high doses of pain medication to control their disease.

Most people who suffer from joint problems are also in their later years. These people are already at higher risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or other devastating disease.


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