Harvard Heart Letter

Stronger heart risk warning for popular painkillers

Current data suggest that naproxen may be the safest NSAID.

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NSAID users: Take the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

The tiny print on your bottle of over-the-counter ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) includes this warning: "The risk of heart at-tack or stroke may go up if you use more than directed or longer than directed." A similar warning appears on the label for naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). Both drugs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs—popular painkillers used to treat arthritis, muscle strains, headaches, and other painful conditions. In July, the FDA announced plans to strengthen these heart risk warnings on both over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs.

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