Popular NSAID pain reliever linked to serious heart health risk

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"Considering its cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, however, there is little justification to initiate diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs", the study concluded.

Experts have analyzed the cardiovascular risks that come together with diclofenac compared to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Then, the researchers followed and studied these individuals for the next two decades from 1996 to 2006.

A 2017 study showed that the risk of heart among those who use NSAIDs is more pronounced when the drug is taken in high daily doses. The researchers' paper is titled, "Diclofenac use and cardiovascular risks: series of nationwide cohort studies".

This is not the first study to have linked diclofenac with coronary disease.

Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, who recently published a study British Medical Journal on the relationship between heart health and diclofenac, believe the drug should be globally banned as an over-the-counter medication.

Dr Schmidt and colleagues took a different approach by analysing national registry data for more than 6.3 million middle aged adults in Denmark. Diclofenac is a traditional NSAID that has similar selectivity for cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX 2) as COX 2 inhibitors, but the cardiovascular risks of diclofenac in comparison with other traditional NSAIDs have not been investigated through a randomized controlled trial.

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For years, however, doctors have been anxious about diclofenac's potential heart risks.

Beginning the use of diclofenac was also associated with an increased rate of cardiac death in comparison with no NSAIDS, and an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding compared with not using NSAIDS, beginning to use ibuprofen or paracetamol.

Diclofenac, a widely used global drug with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious cardiovascular problems, so its use should be done with moderation rather than for a long time. When it is prescribed it "should be accompanied by an appropriate front package warning about its potential risks".

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects", they wrote.

However, while the relative risk increased, the absolute one remained low for the individual patient.

By the way, the worst result was recorded for those people who took the drug at a lower dose than this required. "In conclusion, our data support that initiation of diclofenac poses a cardiovascular health risk, both compared with no use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional NSAIDs".

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