A Popular Painkiller Ingredient Increases Risks Of Heart Attack By 50%

Researchers have found that diclofenac is associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

There is "little justification" for prescribing diclofenac given its cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks when compared to other NSAIDs, researchers have warned.

Now a groundbreaking study of more than six million people, the biggest of its kind, has linked them to "major cardiovascular events".

Its cardiovascular risks compared with those of other traditional NSAIDs have never been examined in large randomised controlled trials.

Diclofenac is a traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for treating pain and inflammation and is widely used across the world.

The results that have been obtained are based on national registry data collected from 6.3 million adults in Denmark taken from 1996 to 2016. Current concerns about the cardiovascular safety of NSAID use mean that such a trial would now be unethical, but regulators including the European Medicines Agency are still calling for the safety of diclofenac to be assessed.

"While NSAID use previously was considered risk-neutral in short treatment periods and low doses, the risks were apparent even within 30 days and also for low doses of diclofenac".

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be of value to some patients to improve their quality of life despite possible side effects".

Researchers found that the increased risks applied to men and women of all ages and also those taking low doses of diclofenac. But the authors of a new study argue that diclofenac shouldn't be allowed as an over-the-counter drug, or at the very least, should be accompanied by appropriate warnings.

"With respect to anyone needing a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, especially over a period of time, not just transient use when you sprain your ankle or that type of thing, if you're going to take one of these medication on a longer-term basis, you ought to consult with your physician, you ought to understand that there may be an increased cardiovascular risk and balance that with the potential benefit you might get out of this medication", says SLU Care's Dr. Michael Lim is a cardiologist at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital.

Furthermore, a connection between taking diclofenac and the increased rate of upper gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiac death was found.

However, researchers point out that, while the relative risk increased significantly, the overall risk was still pretty small. However, the study's sample size is larger than most previous analyzes of observational and randomized studies taken together and provides strong evidence to guide clinical decision making.

People who have suffered heart failure, heart disease or a stroke should stop using it completely.

It's always important to discuss medication and the potential risks it will have on your health with a GP or health professional.

  • Santos West