Heart patients must stop taking lethal NSAIDs immediately, urge researchers
Heart patients are often advised to take NSAID drugs to help ward off another attack…but the advice isn’t just wrong, it can actually be lethal. Doctors are being urged to get all their heart patients off the drugs immediately.
Common painkillers in the NSAID (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) family – which include ibuprofen and naproxen, as well as prescription drugs such as Celebrex (celecoxib) – can cause a fatal heart attack even years after a person has had a first attack.
“It is important to get the message out to doctors taking care of patients with cardiovascular disease that NSAIDs are harmful,” says researcher Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen from the Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte in Denmark.
She and her research team made the worrying discovery after they tracked the progress of 100,000 people aged 30 or older who had suffered a first heart attack between 1997 and 2009. Of these, 45 per cent were taken an NSAID, and the drug increased their risk of dying from any cause by 59 per cent in the first year, and by 63 per cent over the following five years. The risk of a second heart attack increased by 30 per cent in the first year, and this rose to 41 per cent over the next five years.
Normally, a heart attack patient’s risk of a second attack falls within the first few years, until there is no extra risk after five years or so.
(Source: Circulation, published ahead of print, September 10, 2012; doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.112607).