Pills are risky after heart attacks

Pills are risky after heart attacks

NEW YORK - Reuters
Common painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen are considered risky for people who’ve had a heart attack. And now a large study suggests those risks do not go away with time.

“Based on this, we have to assume that if you’ve ever had a heart attack, you should use NSAIDs with caution, and only in consultation with your doctor,” said Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. NSAID stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In a study of almost 100,000 first-time heart attack sufferers, researchers found that those who used the medications afterward were more likely to have a repeat heart attack or die over the next five years. In the first year after the heart attack, 20 percent of NSAID users died, versus about 12 percent of non-users.

Death rates in both groups then declined over the next four years. But NSAID users’ rate remained about double that of non-users.

The findings suggest that painkiller use “should be on the list of things you talk about with your doctor” soon after a heart attack, said Tomaselli, who was not involved in the study and is immediate past president of the American Heart Association (AHA).

NSAIDs include over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), as well as prescription arthritis drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors. With the exception of aspirin, which is known to cut the risk of heart attack, the safety of NSAIDs for people with heart disease has long been in doubt.