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Painkillers linked to heart attacks

25th October 2006

02062006_ibuprofen1.jpgLong-term use of certain painkillers can increase the risk of heart attacks or stroke, according to a new review.

Doctors across the UK have been warned that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – which are routinely taken by millions to relieve the pain of arthritis or back problems – may be associated with a ‘small risk’ of heart attack or stroke.

The Commission on Human Medicines has written to every doctor in the UK advising them to prescribe the ‘lowest effective dose for the shortest time necessary’.

It comes after a European review that drew on research published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year. The research looked at more than 130 trials involving 140,000 patients and found the risk of stroke and heart attack increased by up to 40 per cent.

Despite the concerns, the European Medicines Agency, which carried out the review, said NSAIDs where more beneficial than harmful and stressed there was no need for people to stop taking them. The level of risk varied between the 11 NSAIDs reviewed, but diclofenac, which was taken by 3.5 million people last year, was singled out as carrying a small risk of stroke if the maximum daily dose of 150mg is given.

The drugs also include Ibuprofen, which was found to carry no increased risk if used below 1,200mg a day, but may carry a small risk of heart attack or stroke if the maximum daily dose of 2,400mg is taken. Naproxen carries a lower risk of stroke, and no increased risk of heart attack.

It is a further blow to the estimated two million arthritis sufferers in the UK. Two years ago another painkiller, Vioxx, was taken off the market after research revealed it carried an increased risk of heart attacks or strokes.

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Article Information

Title: Painkillers linked to heart attacks
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 962
Date Added: 25th Oct 2006


The Guardian

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