Medicine

United Kingdom painkiller Diclofenac ‘increases risk of HEART ATTACK by 50%’

United Kingdom painkiller Diclofenac ‘increases risk of HEART ATTACK by 50%’

The researchers noted that diclofenac should not be available without prescription, and its packaging should now be labeled as a warning about the potential dangers it poses. The increased risks applied to men and women of all ages and also at low doses of diclofenac. 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. The rate of major adverse cardiovascular events was also 20% higher among diclofenac initiators than among those who started taking paracetamol, or ibuprofen, and 30% higher among diclofenac initiators than patients who started to take naproxen.

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

The study included more than 6.3 million adults with an average age of 46-49 in Denmark with at least one year of continuous prescription records from 1996 to 2016. Considering its cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, however, there is little justification to initiate diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs.

The research team, led by Dr Morten Schmidt from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark examined starting the use of the drug compared with no NSAIDS, beginning the use paracetamol and starting other traditional NSAID drugs.

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 authors point out that, although the relative risk was increased, the absolute risk remained low for the individual patient.

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The researchers found that starting diclofenac during the study period was linked to increased rate of cardiovascular events such as heart failure, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, and ischaemic stroke within a month compared with starting paracetamol, or other traditional NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

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 also gives short-term relief from headaches, toothache, period pain and cold and flu symptoms.

The researchers believe that people should finally recognize the potential health risks of the drug and reduce its usage. It blocks a substance in the body called cyclo-oxygenase, which produces chemicals in response to injury - causing pain, swelling and inflammation.

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