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High Doses of Common Painkillers May Raise Risk for Heart Trouble
Date:5/30/2013

WEDNESDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- People who take high doses of common painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) face a greater risk for heart problems, a new analysis shows.

Although NSAIDs are used around the world to help people with inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, a review of nearly 650 randomized trials found that taking either 2,400 milligrams (mg) of ibuprofen or 150 mg of diclofenac daily increased the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death by about one-third. The findings were published online May 29 in the journal The Lancet.

The study authors said, however, that the increased risk of heart attacks from individual NSAIDs is proportional to a patient's underlying risk for heart attacks. Since people with a history of heart problems or risk factors for heart disease are at greatest risk, they concluded that doctors should weigh that before prescribing a high-dose NSAID regimen for such a patient.

"While NSAIDs increase vascular and gastrointestinal risks to a varying extent, our analyses indicate that the effects of different regimens in particular patients can be predicted, which may help physicians choosing between alternative NSAID regimens to weigh up which type of NSAID is safest in different patients," study author Colin Baigent, from the Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit at the University of Oxford, in England, said in a journal news release.

One expert agreed with that assessment.

"Considering NSAIDs are some of the most commonly used medications and their increased risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure and death is significant, this meta-analysis may help doctors in guiding patients [about] which NSAID -- and at what dose -- might be the safest for them," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"Through this analysis, the size of the ri
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