By Princess Gabbara, BDO Daily Contributor –Blackdoctor.org
Could a popular pain reliever put you at a greater risk of heart attack and stroke? This could be the case considering the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued an updated warning label for popular pain relievers – NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex. NSAIDs are also used in cold, flu and sleep medications. The FDA is set to make similar warning changes to lower-dose over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs, including Aleve (the least likely to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes), Motrin and Advil as well.
The OTC drugs in this group are used for the temporary relief of pain and fever. The prescription drugs in this group are used to treat several kinds of arthritis and other painful conditions. The FDA mentions that although aspirin is also an NSAID, this revised warning doesn’t apply to aspirin or Tylenol.
As of now, the warnings state that if used long term, these over-the-counter drugs can increase one’s risk of developing heart-related issues. The updated warnings state that heart-related problems can occur in as little as a couple weeks. Also, the higher the dose, the greater the risk.
Back in 2004, Merck & Co Inc., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, discontinued the pain reliever Vioxx due to the FDA’s reports about it being linked to heart attack and stroke.
“Consumers can limit their risk by [avoiding] daily use of these medications and use them on an as-needed basis,” advises Dr. Bola Oyeyipo, a family physician in San Antonio, Texas and co-founder of Healthgist.com. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle of regular exercise, refraining from smoking, and a diet low in saturated fats and rich in vegetables also help to reduce the risk of heart disease.”
If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, the FDA advises consumers to consult a health care provider before using an NSAID. Balance the benefits of NSAIDs with the possible risks and weigh your options. If you take low-dose aspirin for protection against heart attack and stroke, you should know that some NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and naproxen, can interfere with that protective effect.
Remember to read the labels of medications carefully and always consult a doctor before adding anything new to your routine.