Pain drugs linked to heart attacks


High doses of some commonly used pain drugs such as ibuprofen can increase heart attacks, strokes and related deaths by about a third, a study warned on Thursday.

The drugs, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are widely used to manage pain caused by inflammatory disorders.

Earlier research had linked the drugs’ use to a risk of serious gastrointestinal problems. This led to a new generation of NSAIDs called coxibs that were designed to reduce these complications, but instead came under scrutiny for increasing the risk of heart attacks. The new study, published in The Lancet, found that high doses of not only coxibs but also older-generation NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil) or diclofenac (Voltaren) were associated with heart disease risk.

“For every 1,000 individuals with a moderate risk of heart disease allocated to one year of treatment with high-dose diclofenac or ibuprofen, about three would experience an avoidable heart attack of which one would be fatal,” the study said.