Common painkiller linked to major heart problems

Faith Castro
September 9, 2018

Diclofenac should not be available over the counter, and when prescribed, should be accompanied by an appropriate front package warning about its potential risks'.

"Diclofenac poses a cardiovascular health risk compared with non-use, paracetamol use and use of other traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs", the cardiologist said.

A review by European health officials confirmed the finding, and said patients should no longer use diclofenac if they have a heart condition, or have previously suffered heart attacks or strokes.

So a research team, led by Morten Schmidt at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, examined the cardiovascular risks of starting diclofenac compared with no NSAIDS, starting other traditional NSAIDs and starting paracetamol. Eligible individuals were at least 18 years of age and had at least a year of continuous prescription records before the date of the study start in 1996.

Daily Mail reported that researchers found that the increased risks applied to men and women of all ages and also to those who are taking low doses of the ingredient. Diclofenac is a traditional NSAID that has similar selectivity for cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX 2) as COX 2 inhibitors, but the cardiovascular risks of diclofenac in comparison with other traditional NSAIDs have not been investigated through a randomized controlled trial.

Diclofenac is a traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat pain and inflammation.

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Diclofenac, a commonly used painkiller, was associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and strokes, compared with no medication or other medication, according to a study in Denmark.

Rates rose by 50 percent after 30 days among patients taking diclofenac.

When all these simulated trials was averaged out, people who took diclofenac were 50 per cent more likely to have cardiovascular problems in the first 30 days after use than were people who took nothing.

Diclofenac was associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiac events such as irregular heartbeat or flutter, ischaemic stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.

The authors mention that although the relative risk was increased, the absolute risk remained low for each individual patient. For people at high risk of cardiovascular disease, that number would shoot up to 40, with half dying. The researchers compared the history of 6.3 million patients aged 46 to 49 years, which were divided into three groups, including the risk of morbidity: low, medium and high.

Although the study is observational, they say - which means that no conclusions can be drawn about causality - the large sample size and the quality of the research is sufficiently "strong evidence to guide clinical decision-making".

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