From headache to heartache: NSAIDs pose heart dangers

Heart Health Read the fine print the next time you pick up a bottle of ibuprofen or naproxen. You’ll see a warning about the risk for potentially deadly heart attacks and strokes.

These drugs are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)   is now requiring a stronger message about the risks they pose. Drug labels will soon include more detailed risk information, including the following:

  • The longer you use them, the greater your risk. But heart attacks or strokes can occur even within the first few weeks of using these drugs.
  • The higher the dosage you take, the greater the danger.
  • People with heart disease, or risk factors like high blood pressure, face the largest risk.
  • These events can occur even in otherwise healthy people.

These warnings also apply to prescription NSAIDs, including diclofenac (Voltaren®) and celecoxib (Celebrex®). Your doctor might prescribe these for chronic pain from arthritis or other conditions.

The warnings do not apply to aspirin, even though it is also in this class of drugs. However, if you take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks or strokes, taking another NSAID might decrease the protection you’ll get.

The new warnings don’t mean you should never take these drugs. They are still effective treatments for pain, inflammation and fever.

However, people with heart problems or high blood pressure should talk with their doctor before using them, the FDA says. Everyone should read all drug labels carefully. Many multi-symptom cold medicines also contain NSAIDs, so make sure you don’t take a double dose unintentionally.

If you do take NSAIDs, stop and seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of a heart problem or stroke. These include sudden chest pain, weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech or trouble breathing.

You can read more about the new labels on the FDA website  .

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration 

 

Last Review: 5/16/2019

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