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Caution Urged with NSAIDs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly utilized over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers that many people may want to take a second look at, depending on their circumstances. Mounting evidence suggest that these pharmaceuticals increase a person's risk of heart attack and stroke.

The Food and Drug Administration thinks the evidence is noteworthy, as they recently ordered drug manufacturers to toughen the warning labels on these medications. Aspirin was not included on the new warning labels, since it has been found to lower cardiovascular risks in some patients.

Taking an occasional  NSAID here and there should not be a problem for someone who has a hearlthy heart if they follow the correct dosages. However, chronic users or those who already have issues elevate their risk of heart attack or stroke anywhere from 10-50 percent, depending on the drug and the dosage being used.

Researchers believe that NSAIDs alter the lining of blood vessels, opening the door to blood-clot formation. Common NSAIDs  include Advil and Motrin (ibuprofen); ALeve (naproxen); and the prescription drug Celebrex. Multi-symptom cold medications, many of which contain NSAIDs, often fly under the radar, catching people unaware.

For people whom NSAIDs have brought relief from severe arthritis pain, the best course of action is to consult with their doctor. In some cases, the risks of NSAID use are outweighed by the benefits of diminished pain.

Awareness of the issue, good doctor-patient communication, and exploring the options to NSAID use are the keys to successfully navigating the potential NSAID minefield.


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