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Cardiovascular side effects of NSAID painkillers

October 1, 2006

BOSTON, MA — Cardiovascular side effects aren't limited to the use of the newer painkillers called COX-2 inhibitors-a category that includes Celebrex and the recently discontinued Vioxx and Bextra. Old standbys, like ibuprofen and aspirin, aren't entirely blameless, reports the October 2006 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter. The cardiovascular risks associated with traditional NSAIDs are small, but worth being aware of.

Ibuprofen, aspirin, and COX-2s all belong to the class of medicines called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Most of them boost blood pressure and can counteract the effect of some blood-pressure drugs. They can also impair blood vessels' ability to relax and may stimulate the growth of smooth muscle cells inside arteries. All these changes can contribute to the artery-clogging process known as atherosclerosis.

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