A new study from Denmark found that Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs, which have been used to treat arthritis pain and inflammation, are harmful to the heart. The study published on March 16 in the European Heart Journal involved collecting data about the effects of NSAIDs on patients with heart disease, determining 40 percent of heart failure Danish patients were previously prescribed with the drug.

“It’s been well-known for a number of years that newer types of NSAIDs – what are known as COX-2 inhibitors, increase the risk of heart attacks. For this reason, a number of these newer types of NSAIDs have been taken off the market again,” says lead researcher Morten Schmidt from Aarhus University.  “We can now see that some of the older NSAID types, particularly Diclofenac, are also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and apparently to the same extent as several of the types that were taken off the market.”

Arthritis affects the joints, making a simple task such as typing difficult. Photo from Pixabay/steveqb

Arthritis affects the joints, making a simple task such as typing difficult. Photo from Pixabay/steveqb

NSAIDs are used to treat swelling, pain and mobility limitations stemming from inflammation. Older types of this drug are taken in many countries without a prescription, putting these patients at a higher risk.

Countless research has enabled the reduction of Diclofenac use in Denmark. Still, Schmidt asserts that more studies should still be conducted to prevent health problems and increase patient safety. Nevertheless, the team suggested for physicians to consider the patient’s cardiovascular status to keep them out of harm’s way.

“When doctors issue prescriptions for NSAIDs, they must in each individual case carry out a thorough assessment of the risk of heart complications and bleeding. NSAIDs should only be sold over the counter when it comes with an adequate warning about the associated cardiovascular risks,” adds Christian Torp-Pedersen, a cardiology professor at Aalborg University in Denmark. “In general, NSAIDs are not be used in patients who have or are at high-risk of cardiovascular diseases,”