Home Health Taking common painkillers for just a week can raise your risk of suffering a heart attack, research suggests

Taking common painkillers for just a week can raise your risk of suffering a heart attack, research suggests

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Taking common painkillers such as ibuprofen for only a week can significantly raise the risk of having a heart attack, a study suggests.

Patients are being urged to limit their use of the drugs to as short a period as possible, after they were linked to increased heart attack chances of more than 50 per cent.

Scientists already suspected a connection between potentially fatal cardiac events and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, which also includes diclofenac and naproxen. But there was uncertainty as to how long a patient could take the drugs before putting themselves at added risk.

Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Brent Lewin/BloombergTaking ibuprofen for only a week can significantly raise the risk of having a heart attack, researchers say.

The new investigation, the largest ever of its kind, found anti-inflammatories may boost the chances of a heart attack as early as in the first week of use. They found a particularly strong connection within the first month.

Published in The BMJ, the study urges doctors to weigh up risks with the benefits of prescribing the drugs.

Because of the observational nature of the research, which examined the prescribing data and health outcomes of more than 446,000 people, scientists cannot say for sure why anti-inflammatories are linked to greater heart attack risk. Previous research has suggested the connection may involve the drugs blocking in a hormone called prostacylin, which protects blood vessels.

People must be made aware of risk

Dr. Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study worryingly highlights just how quickly you become at risk of having a heart attack after starting NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

“Whether being prescribed painkillers like ibuprofen, or buying over the counter, people must be made aware of risk and alternative medication should be considered where appropriate.”

The research team from Canada, Finland and Germany said there was “a rapid onset of risk” for heart attack within the first week of use, while risk was highest during the first month of taking the painkillers.

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