Widely Used Painkiller Linked To Increased Risk For Heart Attack And Stroke

To conduct this study, the researchers utilized the national registry data containing details on the 6.3 million adults residing in Denmark. Scientists should also avoid using diclofenac as a reference point to compare other NSAIDs and painkillers against in safety trials, given its unique risks, they said. Average age was 46 to 49 years among participants starting NSAIDs and 56 years among those starting paracetamol.

Shock new findings show Diclofenac - a drug used to treat back pain, headaches and arthritis - is linked to "major cardiovascular events".

A study carried out by researchers in Denmark looked at nearly 1,400,000 patients who were started on diclofenac between 1996 and 2016, as well as patients who were initiated on other types of NSAIDs and patients who weren't initiated on any NSAIDs.

Beginning the use of diclofenac was also associated with an increased rate of cardiac death in comparison with no NSAIDS, and an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding compared with not using NSAIDS, beginning to use ibuprofen or paracetamol. "Considering its cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, however, there is little justification to initiate diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs".

"With respect to anyone needing a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, especially over a period of time, not just transient use when you sprain your ankle or that type of thing, if you're going to take one of these medication on a longer-term basis, you ought to consult with your physician, you ought to understand that there may be an increased cardiovascular risk and balance that with the potential benefit you might get out of this medication", says SLU Care's Dr. Michael Lim is a cardiologist at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital.

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.




Researchers noted that this is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

The cardiovascular threat also increased with the risk at baseline.

Diclofenac, marketed as Voltarol in the United Kingdom, has been linked with heart failure and irregular heartbeats, and has recently been withdrawn from sales over the counter in the United Kingdom due to concerns about side effects.

For those at moderate risk at the start, they found 7 extra cardiovascular events with diclofenac compared with ibuprofen or naproxen; 8 extra events compared with paracetamol; and 14 extra events compared with no NSAIDs. The researchers add that while the relative risk for heart issues was seen to increase, the absolute risk for patients stayed low.

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

However, 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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