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Ibuprofen linked to 31% increase in risk of cardiac arrest

Published on 16/03/17 at 09:37am

A study emerging from Denmark has found that the use of over-the-counter pain killer, Ibuprofen, is associated with an increased risk of cardiac arrest. In particular, the research warned against the view of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) as without risk and advised against people using the pain killers who had pre-existing cardiovascular problems.

The research looked at 28,000 in Denmark who had suffered from cardiac arrest and compared this with their use of NSAIDs in the 30 days before the event. It was able to do this because many NSAIDs in Denmark require a prescription and therefore the researchers could track when a patient was likely to be using pain killers.

Of those who were taking NSAIDs, the use of ibuprofen was associated with a 31% increase in the risk of cardiac arrest. As well as this, patients taking diclofenac, another NSAID – only available by prescription in the USA and the UK, were found to have a 50% increase in the risk of cardiac arrest.

“Allowing these drugs to be purchased without a prescription and without any advice or restrictions, sends a message to the public that they must be safe. The findings are a stark reminder that NSAIDs are not harmless. Diclofenac and Ibuprofen, both commonly used drugs, were associated with significantly increased risk of cardiac arrest,” said author Professor Gunnar H. Gislason, Professor of Cardiology at Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte, Denmark.

Ibuprofen is widely available in the UK and the US without prescription, but more research is emerging that point to risks that are not well-known by the public. The findings could be explained by the influence NSAIDs has on platelet aggregation and the formation of blood clots, the constriction of arteries and raising blood pressure.

The research is likely to cause a discussion on whether ibuprofen should be as easily available as it is and whether the general public need to be educated on the safety risk.

Ben Hargreaves

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