Com­mon painkillers ‘in­crease heart fail­ure risk’

Malta Independent - - HEALTH -

Tak­ing a com­mon kind of painkiller is linked to an in­creased risk of heart fail­ure, a study sug­gests.

Non-steroidal anti-in­flam­ma­tory drugs, such as ibupro­fen and naproxen and di­clofenac, are com­monly used to treat pain and in­flam­ma­tion.

The Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal study looked at 10 mil­lion peo­ple, aged 77 on aver­age, who took the drugs. UK experts said the find­ings had lit­tle rel­e­vance for most un­der-65s but were a pos­si­ble con­cern for el­derly pa­tients.

The study an­a­lysed data for the 10 mil­lion users - who were from the UK, the Nether­lands, Italy and Ger­many - and com­pared them with peo­ple who did not take the drugs.

The re­searchers, from Univer­sity of Mi­lano-Bic­occa in Italy, found tak­ing NSAIDs in­creased the risk of being taken to hospi­tal with heart fail­ure by 19%.

Since most peo­ple in the study were older - and those on NSAIDs were, in gen­eral, in poorer health UK experts said the find­ings had very lit­tle rel­e­vance for most un­der-65s but may be a con­cern for el­derly pa­tients.

The Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion said pa­tients should be on the low­est dose pos­si­ble of NSAIDs for the short­est pos­si­ble time.

Prof Peter Weiss­berg, med­i­cal di­rec­tor at the BHF, said: “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.

“Since heart and joint prob­lems of­ten co­ex­ist, par­tic­u­larly in the el­derly, this study serves as a re­minder to doc­tors to con­sider care­fully how they pre­scribe NSAIDs, and to pa­tients that they should only take the low­est ef­fec­tive dose for the short­est pos­si­ble time.

“They should dis­cuss their treat­ment with their GP if they have any con­cerns.”

He­len Wil­liams, con­sul­tant phar­ma­cist for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease at the Royal Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety, said that the fo­cus needed to be on older pa­tients with con­di­tions or dis­eases that might put them at in­creased risk of heart fail­ure any­way.

“Hyper­ten­sion, di­a­betes, maybe kid­ney prob­lems - it’s in those pa­tients when we add these drugs on top that there might be a small in­crease in their risk,” she said.

Stephen Evans, pro­fes­sor of phar­ma­coepi­demi­ol­ogy at the London School of Hy­giene and Trop­i­cal Medicine, said: “The con­se­quence is that it is of very lit­tle rel­e­vance to most peo­ple be­low age 65 tak­ing painkillers, but in the very el­derly, say, above 80, that the ef­fects are of more rel­e­vance.”

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