Aching back, stiff fingers, cranky knees… We like to self-prescribe common painkillers such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve) and celecoxib (Celebrex) for all manner of discomfort. But a new study from the University of Florida casts renewed doubt on the long-term use of these drugs known as NSAIDS–nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
It found that people with hypertension and coronary artery disease who address chronic pain with regular NSAID use may have increased risk of death from heart attack, stroke and related events.
Physicians already discourage the use of NSAIDs by heart attack patients and the elderly because earlier studies showed a relationship between the drugs and higher risk of stroke and heart attack.
People who also take aspirin–another type of NSAID–for cardiovascular prevention might be especially at risk because these other NSAIDS appear to compromise aspirin’s anti-clotting effect, might increase the risk of bleeding and raise blood pressure.
The study’s authors advise patients not to stop prescribed use of these drugs before discussing it with their doctors. Further studies probably will focus on whether all NSAIDS share these dangerous properties, or only some.