Using painkillers like ibuprofen could significantly increase your chances of being admitted to hospital for heart failure, a new study published in the British Medical Journal has found. People who had taken the drug in the previous 14 days were 19% more likely to be admitted than people who had taken them further in the past.
The study looked at non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and found that seven 'traditional' NSAIDs – diclofenac, ibuprofen, indomethacin, ketorolac, naproxen, nimesulide, and piroxicam – all increased the risk of hospital admission for heart failure. Though they said that this varied between different drugs and the doses.
"Very high doses" of some NSAIDs doubled the risk of heart failure and "even medium doses" of others "were associated with increased risk".
Researchers looked at healthcare databases from four European countries – the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and the UK. Along with 23 traditional NSAIDs, the study looked at four selective COX 2 inhibitors – anti-inflammatory drugs.
10 million NSAIDs users were studied by the researchers who said that "any potential increased risk could have a considerable impact on public health" and they hoped the study could help inform clinical practices.
NSAIDs have previously been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and abnormal hearth rhythms.
Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, Professor Peter Weissberg, said that study was a reminder to doctor to be careful how they prescribe the drugs: "This large observational study reinforces previous research showing that some NSAIDs, a group of drugs commonly taken by patients with joint problems, increase the risk of developing heart failure.
"It has been known for some years now that such drugs need to be used with caution in patients with, or at high risk of, heart disease. This applies mostly to those who take them on a daily basis rather than only occasionally."