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Exactly How Dangerous Is Your Painkiller? Scientists Determine Heart Attack and Stroke Risk


Earlier research shows a link between non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and a higher heart attack and stroke risk.

In a new study, Taiwanese scientists compared the exact risk associated with ibuprofen, celecoxib, mefenamic acid, diclofenac and naproxen to determine if some posed a greater danger than others.

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The researchers from National Yang-Ming University in Taipei used data from 56,000 adults with high blood pressure. People with elevated blood pressure are already at a higher risk of cardiovascular events, and many are unaware that common painkillers can cause it to rise further.

They found all five drugs could harm the heart within four weeks. Celecoxib appeared to present the biggest threat, with one out of 105 users suffering a heart attack or stroke. Mafenamic acid carried the least risk, leading to a cardiovascular event in one out of 394 users. The following odds of a heart attack or stroke were found for the remaining drugs: one in 214 for naproxen, one in 245 for diclofenac and one in 330 for ibuprofen. Results were published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

All Painkillers Have Troubling Side Effects

Although the above study wasn’t the first to show the serious side effects associated with NSAIDs, news about the dangers of the drugs hasn’t been disseminated enough and the public remains largely in the dark about them. People frequently reach for these drugs, along with other common painkillers, to alleviate a host of aches and pains without a second thought.

Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, also comes with hazards. A 2013 study revealed that it’s responsible for 150 deaths per year due to accidental overdose. The medication is included in a host of products like cold and flu medications, so it’s important to keep track of how much you take and not exceed the maximum dosage of 4,000 mg per day. While most people are aware that acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage, the drug also produces heart toxicity, kidney damage and gastrointestinal bleeding, reports Kelly Brogan, M.D.

Even aspirin, a blood thinner that reduces the likelihood of blood clots, has a downside. A 2018 study found it decreased the risk of death for patients with heart failure and diabetes, but paradoxically, it increased the risk of nonfatal strokes and heart attacks. Anyone taking a baby aspirin regularly should be under a doctor’s care.

The bottom line is to avoid taking a painkiller unless it’s necessary and to take the lowest dose possible. If you have chronic pain, try natural agents such as curcumin, a well-tolerated supplement that helps fight inflammation.

Learn more about the many severe health risks of taking NSAIDs as well as some effective alternatives for natural pain relief in our article How Safe Are The “Innocent” Pain Meds, Really? (We Were Shocked…).


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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