According to a recent study, people who suffer from arthritis are at a greater risk of heart disease and stroke if they take ibuprofen to relieve their pain. The study, conducted by Swiss researchers, suggests that the common painkiller may have deadly consequences.
The study’s findings were presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona. All 444 participants involved in the trial of three different NSAIDs either had evidence of heart disease or were at an increased risk of heart disease. Through the study, researchers found that celecoxib, commonly sold under the brand name Celebrex, slightly decreased systolic blood pressure over a four-month period. Both naproxen and ibuprofen were found to increase blood pressure, raising the risk of both heart disease and stroke. Ibuprofen led the pack significantly.
Frank Ruschitzka, professor of cardiology and head of the department at the University Heart Centre, Zurich, led the study. He said, “The study clearly demonstrates that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), particularly ibuprofen, may be not as safe as previously thought. Patients receiving ibuprofen had a 61% higher incidence of hypertension compared to those receiving celecoxib.”
Professor Ruschitzka explained that decreasing blood pressure by even a small amount could lower both stroke and heart mortality by 10% and 7%, respectively. He estimates that lowering patients’ blood pressure could help prevent over 70,000 deaths from stroke and 60,000 death from coronary heart disease each year.
A spokesman from Arthritis Research UK said, “Long-term use of NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, can increase the risk of problems with your heart or circulation… You shouldn’t take ibuprofen for long-term pain relief without seeing your doctor first.” Arthritis Research UK also noted that ibuprofen, one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, is taken by many arthritis sufferers.
Associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, Professor Jeremy Pearson, praised the study’s findings. He expressed the importance of both patients and doctors weighing the risk and benefits of NSAIDs, especially when patients have a long-term health condition.