Could taking Ibuprofen put you at risk for cardiac arrest?
Headache, body ache and even nausea may prompt you to pop an ibuprofen. But new research has some questioning whether you should take the popular painkiller so freely for your everyday aches and pains.
The study out of Denmark was published in the European Heart Journal-Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy. Researchers examined data from nearly 29,000 people who had all experienced cardiac arrest. As part of that examination, they reviewed medical records of people who took prescription NSAIDS, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In Denmark, it is important to note that prescription NSAIDs refer to ibuprofen and naproxen. Some doses of these drugs are available over the counter in the U.S. under the brand names Advil and Aleve.
As part of their review, researchers found that 3,376 people with a cardiac arrest had taken a NSAID within 30 days of their heart event. They determined that filling a prescription actually increased the risk of cardiac arrest by 31 percent.
While they were not able to determine how long participants were taking the drugs prior to the cardiac arrest, researchers did note that the average prescription treatment for them is generally from 13-29 days.
Experts are skeptical of the study.
“It’s important to note that this was not a randomized controlled trial and that it was observational, so it’s not possible to determine if the NSAID actually caused the cardiac arrest,” says Dr. Leslie Brookfield, a cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
Still, the association between NSAIDs and other cardiovascular risk is not new. In fact, doctors have had concerns for some time about the impact of these drugs on the heart.
“I agree with the finding that it’s best not to take them daily,” says Dr. Brookfield. “In reality, a lot of the conditions that people take NSAIDs for may subside if they lost weight and exercised more.”
Dr. Brookfield’s advice:
- If you need to take NSAIDs for an injury, keep an eye on your blood pressure and don’t take the medication for a prolonged period of time.
- If you have high blood pressure or a history of heart failure, you should be monitored while taking NSAIDs.
“Always consult with your physician if you are concerned about the risks of any over-the-counter medication,” says Dr. Brookfield.
About the Author
Jacqueline Hughes is the manager, media relations at Advocate Aurora Health. Previously, she was the public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.