Many of us commonly use painkillers to squelch the common headache or relieve back pains. However it has been found that even over the counter ibuprofen (Advil, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare) can increase stroke risk by three times and drugs such as rofecoxib (Vioxx) and lumiracoxib (Prexige) can double the risk of heart attack.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly prescribed for the inflammation of arthritis and other body tissues, such as in tendinitis and bursitis. Pain, fever, and inflammation are promoted by the release in the body of chemicals called prostaglandins. Ibuprofen, for example, blocks the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase), resulting in lower levels of prostaglandins. As a consequence, inflammation, pain and fever are reduced.
A study published by the British Medical Journal online examined the effect of traditional NSAIDs as well as new generation anti-inflammatory drugs, known as COX-2 inhibitors and risk associated with heart attack and stroke. Doctors and patients need to be aware that prescription of any anti-inflammatory drug needs to take cardiovascular and stoke risks into serious consideration. The Swiss authors of the study state: “Our study provides the best available evidence on the safety of this class of drugs. Although uncertainty remains, little evidence exists to suggest that any of the investigated drugs are safe in cardiovascular terms. Cardiovascular risk needs to be taken into account when prescribing any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.”