Ask the doctor: How do Aleve, ibuprofen, and aspirin work?

(Reviewed/revised April 2005)

Ask the doctor

Does Aleve help the heart like aspirin? Does ibuprofen interfere with aspirin?

Q I am a 60-year-old man with several risk factors for heart disease. I take Aleve twice a day. Do I still need to take aspirin, or is the Aleve enough?

Q I often take ibuprofen for my headaches or aching back. Now my doctor wants me to start taking aspirin, and she suggested that I ease up on the ibuprofen. Why?

A Aspirin, naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, others), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) all fall into the broad class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. How these drugs act and interact is well worth understanding, because taking aspirin is an important strategy for preventing heart attacks and because other anti-inflammatory drugs are so widely used.

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