Are common painkillers more dangerous than we think?

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Are common painkillers more dangerous than we think?

Painkillers are one of the most common mediciation being given to the patients to relieve from the pain around the world. Many Danish patients are prescribed NSAIDs for the treatment of painful conditions, fever and inflammation. But the treatment also comes with side effects, including the risk of ulcers and increased blood pressure. A major new study has been done in this area, indicating that arthritis painkillers and older forms of arthritis medication are hazardous for heart patients. This research revealed that these common painkillers are more dangerous than previously believed, especially for the heart.

Morten Schmidt, MD and PhD from Aarhus University, research project charge, "It's been well-known for a number of years that newer types of NSAIDs -- what are known as COX-2 inhibitors, increase the risk of heart attacks. For this reason, a number of these newer types of NSAIDs have been taken off the market again. We can now see that some of the older NSAID types, particularly Diclofenac, are also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and apparently to the same extent as several of the types that were taken off the market."

He added, "This is worrying, because these older types of medicine are frequently used throughout the western world and in many countries available without prescription." This new study was carried out in collaboration between 14 European universities and hospitals, including several leading European heart specialists. These findings were published in the European Heart Journal.

About 15% of western population are prescribed for NSAIDs, is being increasing with age. It is also found that in Denmark, 60% of adult population holded at least one prescription for an NSAID within a period of ten year. Previous study has also shown that around 40% of heart patients of Denmark are prescribed NSAIDs.

The European Society of Cardiology has created a number of guidelines for doctors to consider before prescribing NSAIDs to their patients. According to another author, Christian Torp-Pedersen, Professor in cardiology, Aalborg University, Denmark, "When doctors issue prescriptions for NSAIDs, they must in each individual case carry out a thorough assessment of the risk of heart complications and bleeding. NSAIDs should only be sold over the counter when it comes with an adequate warning about the associated cardiovascular risks. In general, NSAIDs are not be used in patients who have or are at high-risk of cardiovascular diseases."

Morten Schmidt said, "Many European countries consume more of these drugs than Denmark. But we can still do better and it's often the case that paracetamol, physiotherapy, mild opioids or other types of NSAIDs with less risk for the heart would be better for the patients. Of course, the recommendations that have been introduced following our study and its review of the heart-related risks are a big step in the right direction in relation to patient safety."

All in all, this new research from Aarhus University revealed that common painkillers have more side effects than we think and that they should be used with great care and found that these medications may be very dangerous for the heart.

Aarhus University

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