A massive study of more than 6.3 million adults found that common painkillers could increase the risk of stroke and heart attack by 50 percent, calling for a ban on over-the-counter purchases. The study was published in the new issue of the British medical journal.
In addition, the large-scale study found that diclofenac, sold in the United States under brands such as valatron and sorz, also put patients at higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding than other painkillers.
Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to relieve fever or toothache in adults, or severe joint pain in children. British regulators banned the drugs from being sold as over-the-counter in 2015 because of concerns about heart health.
“” diclofenac should not be bought over the counter, and a proper front-facing packaging should be attached to the prescription to alert it to potential risks.” ” The team at Aarhus university hospital in Denmark said it was time to recognize the potential health risks of diclofenac and reduce its use.
For the study, a team led by Dr Morten Schmidt analyzed national registration data for more than 6.3 million Danish adults. All of these patients took prescription drugs for at least a year before the study began in January 1996.
The average age of participants taking nsaids was between 46 and 49, while the average age of patients taking acetaminophen, another painkiller, was 56.
The researchers found that even low doses increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. Compared with ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen, diclofenac primarily presents heart problems and complications such as irregular heartbeat, ischemic stroke, and heart failure within 30 days of starting treatment, and the rate of heart attack is significantly increased.
The study found that compared with other drugs and no drugs at all, taking diclofenac increased the risk significantly over time: compared with patients who took ibuprofen, those who started the study at low risk and took diclofenac had an average of one more heart attack or stroke; Compared with paracetamol users, diclofenac recipients had more than three heart attacks or strokes; Those who took no drugs performed best, with an average of four fewer heart attacks or strokes than the diclofenac group.