Published: Sun, September 09, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Diclofenac increases the risk of heart strokes

Diclofenac increases the risk of heart strokes

The increased risks applied to men and women of all ages and also at low doses of diclofenac. The gastrointestinal and cardiovascular risks associated with the treatment, however, does not justify initiating diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs.

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects".

The study explored the cardiovascular risk of one prescription drug Diclofenac and found it can cause serious problems for heart patients if taken for an extended period of time.

"It is time to acknowledge the potential health risk of diclofenac and to reduce its use", Schmidt and colleagues wrote in their study, which was published on September 4.

Are you anxious the medication you take could be impacting your overall health negatively?

Use of diclofenac, a commonly used NSAID for treating pain and inflammation, is linked to increased risk for cardiovascular events.

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The study, which comes out of Denmark's Aarhus University Hospital, looked at the data of adults who took prescriptions continuously for at least one year. Because it would likely be unethical (and costly) to conduct the sort of large-scale randomised trial that could definitively confirm these suspicions, though, the Danish researchers behind the new paper opted for an unique sort of study. Researchers also said that the drug should come with an appropriate front package warning to inform users of its potential health risks. The authors then compared the documented health issues that arose within 30 days in individuals given a course of diclofenac (1.3 million people) to those of 3.8 million people given ibuprofen, 291,490 given naproxen, 764,781 people given the non-NSAID pain reliever paracetamol, and 1.3 million people not prescribed any drug at all. On the other hand, paracetamol, another common painkiller, as well as ibuprofen, showed reduced risks of heart problems, compared with diclofenac. Scientists should also avoid using diclofenac as a reference point to compare other NSAIDs and painkillers against in safety trials, given its unique risks, they said.

Events included irregular heart beat or flutter, ischaemic stroke, heart failure and heart attack.

The additional cardiovascular events increased further in the high-risk group, with extra cardiovascular events seen in 39 out of 1000 patients per year, compared with no NSAIDs.

Participants were split into low, moderate, and high baseline cardiovascular risk.

The authors mention that although the relative risk was increased, the absolute risk remained low for each individual patient.

While the researchers did acknowledge this was an observational study, they also noted the sample sizes they used were larger than what has been used with previous research on the same subject. But even so, researchers say that the risk is not really justified.

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