Painkiller heart risks must be outweighed by benefits

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New research has found low dose ibuprofen is less likely to increase someone’s risk of heart or circulatory disease, compared to other painkillers.

Analysis of more than 50 previous studies showed non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac, even in doses available without prescription, elevated someone’s risk of heart attack or stroke. The findings also indicated that indomethacin and new NSAID etoricoxib were associated with an increased risk.

Drugs naproxen and low dose ibuprofen were least likely to increase risk of heart and circulatory, according to the research.

Doireann Maddock, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “The potential risks for heart patients taking certain painkillers have been known for some time and these new findings shouldn’t be ignored. But scientists and drug regulators will need to delve deeper before we draw any firm conclusions about these drugs and their side effects.

“As with any medicine there are benefits and potential risks to taking painkillers. If you’re already taking these types of drugs and are worried, don’t simply give up on your medication. You should always speak to your doctor first because the benefits may well outweigh the risks for you.”

The research was published in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal.

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