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After Heart Attack, Certain Painkillers May Raise Risk for Recurrence
Date:5/9/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- People with a history of heart attack are at increased risk of suffering another attack or dying after even a week of taking certain types of prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, including Advil, Motrin or Voltarin, a large new study suggests.

Danish researchers analyzed nationwide records of almost 84,000 heart attack survivors and found that those who used certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for one week faced a 45 percent heightened risk of another heart attack. Three months' use raised the risk to 55 percent.

The results reinforce a 2007 American Heart Association statement advising doctors about the risk of NSAID use among heart patients and recommending the drugs be used only in the lowest dose and for the shortest duration necessary.

"The present results indicate there is no apparent safe therapeutic window for NSAIDs in patients with prior [heart attack], and challenge the current recommendations of low-dose and short-term use of NSAIDs as being safe," said study author Dr. Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen, a research fellow at Copenhagen University in Denmark.

The study is published online May 9 in the journal Circulation.

The most common NSAIDs prescribed to study participants were ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren). Diclofenac carried the highest cardiovascular risk, even greater than rofecoxib (Vioxx), an NSAID banned in the United States in 2004 because of a higher rate of heart attacks and strokes among those taking it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning that diclofenac should not be used by patients recovering from heart surgery.

One popular NSAID, naproxen (Aleve), was not associated with a greater risk of death or recurrent heart attack in the study, although it has been linked to gastrointestinal bleeding.

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