Harvard Men's Health Watch

Study puts hard numbers on cardiovascular risks of NSAIDs

A large study in The Lancet provides more details about the cardiovascular risks associated with high doses of anti-inflammatory pain medications. The review covered over 600 studies in which people took various types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These include the most widely consumed NSAIDs, including over-the counter ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) as well as prescription-only diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam) and celecoxib (Celebrex).

The study found that taking high doses of most NSAIDs, except for naproxen, increases the risk of a variety of cardiovascular problems by about one-third. The hazards include heart attacks and strokes as well as death from cardiovascular causes.

The study found that for every 1,000 people who take high-dose NSAIDs for a year, seven to nine people might experience some kind of cardiovascular problem attributable to the medications, with two or three of those events proving fatal.

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