Pain Relievers And Heart Attack Risk
Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) when you have a cold or flu could increase the risk of having a heart attack. An investigation from Taiwan reached this conclusion after analyzing data from 9,793 patients hospitalized for a heart attack. The team wanted to determine whether taking NSAIDs during a cold or flu affects heart attack risk. The researchers compared the patients’ individual risk for a heart attack over time, identified when they had a cold or flu, and recorded when they used NSAIDs. They found that the heart attack risk increased 3.4 fold among those who took NSAIDS during a cold or flu, and that increase more than doubled among patients given NSAIDS intravenously in the hospital. The study also found that the heart attack risk among the patients studied was 2.7 times higher for those who had a respiratory illness but didn’t take NSAIDS, and surprisingly, that the risk was 1.5 higher among patients who took NSAIDS when they didn’t have a cold or flu.
Because the study was observational, it showed an association between heart attacks and taking NSAIDS during a cold or flu but didn’t prove the drugs were responsible. The researchers suggested that taking acetaminophen when you have a cold or flu might be safer than taking NSAIDs, but this drug was not evaluated in the study.
Yao-Chun Wen et al. “Acute Respiratory Infection and Use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs on Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction: A Nationwide Case-Crossover Study.” Journal of Infectious Diseases, February 2017 DOI: 10.1093/infdis/jiw603
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