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Study: Avoid Certain Painkillers Following Heart Attack
- Updated: February 25, 2015
According to a new study, painkillers to include Celebrex and ibuprofen should be avoided by people who have suffered a heart attack. Researchers discovered that for heart attack survivors who take prescription blood thinners, these and other common painkillers increase the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, major bleeding, and even death.
Researchers of the study stated that the findings could prompt concern on a wide level because certain painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NASIDs) and medications to prevent clotting are often used by people who have survived a heart attack.
In a statement from Charles Campbell, chief of cardiovascular medicine with the University of Tennessee Erlanger Health Systems and co-author of the study, there are concerns about NSAID’s for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it has been proven that NSAID’s are extremely hard on kidneys. He noted that the outcome of the study is exactly what medical professionals feared.
For heart attack survivors who take anti-clotting medication, there does not appear to be any period of time deemed “safe” for taking NSAIDs although risk for bleeding is greater within the first three days of using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Campbell stressed that the use of NSAIDs need to be minimized for anyone who has had a heart attack along with blood thinning medication.
Campbell added that one of the most common ways to treat arthritis pain and muscle discomfort is with non-steroidal painkillers. These patients need help and telling them to just deal with pain and discomfort is unacceptable but it is obvious that certain people need different solutions based on the high risk of NSAIDs.
In the United States, NSAIDs are sold as over-the-counter medication to include naproxen under the brand names Naprosyn and Aleve, and ibuprofen sold as Nuprin, Advil, and Motrin. In addition, there are prescription NSAIDs like celecoxib or Celebrex and diclofenac with brand names of Cambia and Voltaren.
The study, led by Dr. Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen with Denmark’s Copenhagen University Hospital, examined NSAID use among nearly 62,000 Danish patients, all at least 30 years of age and survivors of heart attacks within 30 days of being released from the hospital between 2002 and 2011. Of the participants, six of every 10 were men.
Dr. Schjerning and her team discovered that every person was taking some type of blood thinner, whether a prescription or over-the-counter treatment such as aspirin. Three and a half years after the study, patients were followed up on.
Of study participants, 30% were hospitalized again because of having another heart attack, stroke, or other cardiac problem, close to 10% suffered bleeding in the urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, and/or respiratory tract, and 30% had since died.
In addition to taking a blood thinner, over 65% of participants were on at least one NSAID. Researchers found that regardless of the type of blood thinner or NSAID, risk for major health problems to include death were significantly higher. In light of what researchers found, Campbell is urging doctors to give heart patients a warning against using all NSAIDs with the exception of very low-dose aspirin.