Common Painkiller, Diclofenac, Associated With a Higher Risk of Heart Problems

The research claims that a common ingredient in Voltaren can increase your chances of having a heart attack by 50 per cent

Diclofenac is found in Voltaren, Arthrotec, and more treatments.

A new Danish study finds some painkillers may be bad for your heart.

It is widely used to treat a range of conditions including headaches, back pain, arthritis and flu.

In 2013, a major Oxford University study found that for every 1,000 people with a moderate risk of heart disease taking 150mg a day for a year, about three would experience an avoidable heart attack, of which one would be fatal.

However, due to ethical concerns, these risks can not be evaluated in clinical trials.

"With respect to anyone needing a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, especially over a period of time, not just transient use when you sprain your ankle or that type of thing, if you're going to take one of these medication on a longer-term basis, you ought to consult with your physician, you ought to understand that there may be an increased cardiovascular risk and balance that with the potential benefit you might get out of this medication", says SLU Care's Dr. Michael Lim is a cardiologist at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital.

The researchers worked to assess the cardiac risk associated with diclofenac in individuals who weren't taking any NSAIDs, who had started taking other common NSAID pain relievers, and who were taking paracetamol (acetaminophen), commonly sold under the brand name Tylenol.

Writing in The BMJ, he says diclofenac should only be available with a prescription, like in the United Kingdom - and only them when also accompanied with an appropriate warning on the front of the pack. With paracetamol, the difference is also huge - heart disease can be traced in the dynamics of the three times more than those who chose to Diclofenac.

The cardiovascular threat also increased with the risk at baseline. The average age of participants was 46-49 years among those beginning NSAIDs and 56 years among those starting paracetamol.

After accounting for potentially confounding factors, the researchers found that within 30 days of taking up diclofenac, the rate of major cardiovascular problems - such as arrhythmia, ischemic stroke, heart failure, and heart attack - was much higher compared with other NSAIDs.

In those who took diclofenac for 30 days, the risk rose by a huge 50% - compared to those not taking any drugs. Risks that were overlooked or unapparent during safety studies that occurred years to decades ago.

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects", the team wrote in a statement regarding the study.

They examined the cardiovascular risks of starting diclofenac compared with no NSAIDS, starting other traditional NSAIDs and paracetamol.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

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