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Health Discovery

Common Painkillers Increase Heart Risks in Healthy People

List includes Aleve, Advil, Motrin and others

Healthy adults who reach for common painkillers to ease the twinges of everyday aches and pains could be setting themselves up for a heart attack or stroke, according to recent research.

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Is it better to take a pill for minor aches and pain, or live with the discomfort? — Laurent Hamels/PhotoAlto/Corbis

Past studies clearly showed that long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including Advil, Motrin and Aleve, to relieve pain was linked to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke in those who already had heart disease.

But now a study from Denmark reports that short-term use in healthy men and women who take those drugs for minor complaints also raises the risk.

“If you use NSAIDs regularly to control chronic pain, talk with your doctor about reducing your other risks for heart disease with a heart-healthy diet, a good exercise program and possibly statins,” says Richard Stein, M.D., a cardiologist at New York University School of Medicine.

“People should be aware that NSAIDs are not risk-free with respect to the cardiovascular system.” —Emil Loldrup Fosbøl, M.D.

The painkillers are widely used to ease the discomfort of everything from arthritis to headaches and muscle strains. Five such drugs were included in the study: ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox), celecoxib (Celebrex) and rofecoxib (Vioxx), which was taken off the market in 2004 because of heart risks.

“People should be aware that NSAIDs are not risk-free with respect to the cardiovascular system,” says research fellow Emil Loldrup Fosbøl, M.D., the study’s lead author.

Next: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs aren't risk free. >>

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