NSAIDs may be more harmful than you think

Anti-inflammatory drugs are some of the most common drugs taken every day. We have all taken them at some point, including Advil, Aleve, and Ibuprofen. These medications are also known as NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They are commonly used to help with things like pain, fever, and muscle cramps. However, there have been studies popping up saying that NSAIDs are linked to an increased risk of conditions like heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, and stomach ulcers.

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This past summer the FDA said they were going to strengthen their warnings regarding NSAIDs. The FDA claims that NSAIDs cause an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Over-the-counter NSAIDS include Advil, Motrin IB, Ibuprofen, and Aleve. According to new findings, there is significant and stronger evidence the NSAIDs are associated with an increased risk of heart failure.

The FDA is now asking the drug’s manufacturers to change the labels to say they “cause an increased risk” of serious heart failure. They are also asking that they add that the risk may occur early in treatment and may increase the longer the patient uses them. These changes will apply to over-the-counter and prescription forms of the medicine. Over-the-counter NSAIDs are mainly for treating a fever or pain, while prescription NSAIDs are stronger and are used to treat more serious conditions like arthritis or other painful conditions.

The FDA says that people who have cardiovascular conditions should speak with their doctor before making any alterations. Prior research supports the evidence claiming NSAIDs cause an increased risk of heart problems. The FDA initially warned us about the the risk of heart attack and stroke with the prescription form of NSAIDs in 2005. Those who have heart disease, especially those who recently had a heart attack or stroke, have the highest risk. Even those who had never had heart disease were at risk.

This does not mean that people should just stop taking NSAIDs. When NSAIDs are used properly, they are generally safe. However, they should be avoided when possible. The FDA recommends that people should take the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time possible. The American Heart Association suggests that before taking NSAIDs, people should try acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) first. If you have a condition that requires the use of NSAIDs, make sure to consult your doctor prior to altering any way in which you currently take them. It is important to balance the benefits of NSAIDs with the potential risks and weigh your options.