A recent study has shown that routine use of common painkillers, including ibuprofen, has again been linked with a higher chance of having a heart attack.


Led by Michèle Bally of the University of Montreal, Canada, the research team set out to characterise the real-life risks of heart attack associated with the use of oral NSAIDs.

The researchers examined NSAIDs used to treat pain and inflammation and found that the increased risk of heart attack was small but started soon after taking the painkillers.

The NSAIDs of particular interest to the researchers were celecoxib (a COX 2 inhibitor) and the three main traditional NSAIDs – diclofenac, ibuprofen, and naproxen.


The study found that the NSAIDs could be raising the risk of having a heart attack as early as the first week of use and especially within the first month of taking high doses of the drugs.

“Patients and doctors must weigh up the risks and benefits of taking high doses of these common painkillers, particularly if you have survived a heart attack or you are at a higher risk,” said Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation.

“We already know that these drugs increase your risk of having a heart attack. However, this large-scale study worryingly highlights just how quickly you become at risk of having a heart attack after starting NSAIDS.


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

A similar research carried out last year and published in the British Medical Journal had warned that some traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were more dangerous than helpful.

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