Pain-killers raise risks for heart attack survivors

Pain-killers raise risks for heart attack survivors

People who have had a heart attack face serious health risks if they take common pain-killers such as ibuprofen, a new study warns.

The painkillers  — a class of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — include both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and can raise the risk of having a second heart attack or dying, according to the study published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

Danish researchers included nearly 100,000 adult heart attack survivors in the study and found 44 percent had filled at least one NSAID prescription.

Among those who got the pain-killers, the death risk from any cause rose 59 percent a year after their heart attack and 63 percent in 5 years, researchers found. And the risk of having another heart or dying of coronary artery disease was 30 percent higher one year later and 41 percent higher after five years.

“The results support previous findings suggesting that NSAIDs have no apparent safe treatment window among heart attack patients, and show that coronary risk related to using the drugs remains high, regardless of the time that has passed since the heart attack,” Dr. Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen, the study’s lead author, said in an American Heart Association news release.

About 785,000 people in the U.S. have a first heart attack each year and another 470,000 heart attack survivors have another attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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rsp wrote on September 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I don't understand this at all. Do they mean taking it a year later and five years later and dying while taking it or what? This is the second story I've seen on this and still no clarity. 

Deb Pressey wrote on September 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm

The study followed a group of heart attack survivors from 1997 to 2009 and identified NSAID use of those people through prescription registries. Researchers analyzed risk with NSAID use during a follow-up period, but their general conclusion was taking NSAIDs was associated with higher coronary risk for heart attack survivors no matter how much time had elapsed after their attacks.

 For more details, please see the full study. It's available for public viewing: