These kinds of medicines are categorized under a group of painkillers referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medicines have the potential of increasing someone’s relative risk of encountering a heart failure. The risk is about 20 percent as per the analysis of medical records containing data of about 10 million patients.

As an individual takes more NSAIDs, this risk is also increased. That is according to Andrea Arfe, the study author and Ph.D. student at University of Milano-Bicocca, in Italy. He said that there are some NSAIDS that doubles ones risk of being hospitalized if they are consumed in large quantities. These include etoricoxib (Arcoxia), piroxicam (Feldene), indomethacin (Indocin) and diclofenac (Cataflam or Voltaren).

Arfe said that their study concentrated on prescription NSAIDS but is also applicable to NSAIDs offered over-the-counter. He noted that the usage of the latter is usually in small doses but may turn out catastrophic if used in an inappropriate manner.

You can still use NSAID for pain

The nature of the study made it to only point to the link between the use NSAID and occurrence of a heart attack but did not prove the cause-and-effect. Experts have been quick to explain patients who require NSAID for their pain can safely continue relying on them.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) says that NSAIDs working is such a way that they block enzyme cyclooxygenase to decrease inflammation. This enzyme has two forms of occurrence: COX-1 and COX-2. The duty of COX-1 is to keep the stomach lining safe from being digested by digestive acids. COX-2 is produced due to an inflamed or injured joint.

The traditional NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin are known to inhibit the job done by COX-1 and COX-2. That explains why some people encounter stomach upsets after taking them. The new NSAIDs such as Celebrex focus only on COX-2 and are given the name COX-2 inhibitors.

Longtime health concern

AED certified doctors have for a long time expressed worry that NSAIDs may have a bigger role in increasing heart failure. Dr. Christopher O’Connor, editor-in-chief of the cardiology journal JACC: Heart Failure, explains their fear is driven by the fact that they make people retain sodium.

O’Connor said that we have been using these drugs for quite some time now and that they play a significant role in handling pain and inflammation. However, they also pose the threat of causing cardiovascular problems. He said “They have been shown to hold onto sodium, and there’s some reduction in kidney function.”

Scope of the study

Arfe and colleagues closely analyzed the link between NSAIDs and heart failure by going through millions of European health records kept since 1999 to 2010. The patients studied were from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

A total of 27 individual NSAIDs and 23 traditional NSAIDs were analyzed. This helped researchers identify over 92,000 hospital admissions due to heart failure and tried to match these against 8.2 million patients who didn’t have any history of heart failure.

The conclusion that the researchers arrived at after the comparison and analysis is that people who had been prescribed an NSAID had a 19 percent risk of being admitted for heart failure within two weeks following the prescription.

What can you do?

O’Connor said that any person relying on UNSAIDs for pain as well as inflammation should have a conversation with his/her doctor on the personal heart risk. They should not just drop the medication without making any consultation.

He also pointed out that this study results reveal a relative increase. That implies that people who really need the medication would have very little additional danger.