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Painkiller link to heart problems


Friday May 31st 2013

High doses of strong painkillers could increase the chance of heart problems according to research.

People who regularly take large doses of some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - such as diclofenac and ibuprofen - stand a slightly higher chance of heart attack or a stroke, the study published in The Lancet found.

A team from the MRC Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit at the University of Oxford analysed data from 353,000 patients, looking at those who used high doses of the drugs over a long period of time.

They found that for every 1,000 people with a moderate risk of heart disease who took high-dose diclofenac (150mg daily) or ibuprofen (2400mg daily) over a year-long period, about three would have an otherwise avoidable heart attack, of which one would be fatal.

The figures also suggested that those taking high doses of NSAIDs are twice as likely to have heart failure and four times more likely to encounter serious upper gastrointestinal complications such as bleeding ulcers.

However the researchers analysed the random trials and found that the size of the risk could be predicted, allowing doctors and healthcare professionals to make an informed decision about whether a patient would be suited to a particular type of painkiller.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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