Popular NSAID pain reliever linked to serious heart health risk

Painkiller tablets

Painkiller tablets

Writing in The BMJ, he says diclofenac should only be available with a prescription, like in the United Kingdom - and only them when also accompanied with an appropriate warning on the front of the pack.

The risk was apparent for both men and women of all ages and with low doses of diclofenac, the study in the BMJ reported. 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.

However, although the relative risk - relative to other drugs - is increased, they have indicated that the absolute risk of diclofenac remains low for patients.

As it is used mostly to treat inflammations and pains, diclofenac, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, also known as NSAID, is broadly consumed all over the world.

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects", they write.

Results from the study, which looked at data held in Danish health and prescription registries, suggest that the cardiovascular risks associated with diclofenac use may be 20-30% higher than those of paracetamol and the NSAIDs ibuprofen and naproxen.

The study explored the cardiovascular risk of one prescription drug Diclofenac and found it can cause serious problems for heart patients if taken for an extended period of time.

A study carried out by researchers in Denmark looked at nearly 1,400,000 patients who were started on diclofenac between 1996 and 2016, as well as patients who were initiated on other types of NSAIDs and patients who weren't initiated on any NSAIDs.

For those at moderate risk at the start, they found 7 extra cardiovascular events with diclofenac compared with ibuprofen or naproxen; 8 extra events compared with paracetamol; and 14 extra events compared with no NSAIDs. The overall risk for each individual patient, though, was found to be low. The problems included cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, ischemic stroke, stroke, premature death of cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal haemorrhage.

Smokers and people with high blood pressure, raised cholesterol and diabetes have been advised to use the drug only after consulting their GP or pharmacist.

'It is time to acknowledge the potential health risk of diclofenac and to reduce its use.

It also gives short-term relief from headaches, toothache, period pain and cold and flu symptoms. It costs a lot to produce, so many publications facing an uncertain future can no longer afford to fund it.

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