Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are particularly effective in reducing pain and inflammation, and are widely used to treat diseases such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. However, several studies conducted over the last few years have indicated that prolonged use of these medications can lead to a number of heart diseases and strokes.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances which are primarily involved in pain, inflammation, protecting the stomach lining from its digestive fluid along with other bodily functions. NSAIDs block these substances by inhibiting two enzymes – namely COX-1 and COX-2. COX-1 provides protection to the stomach and COX-2 is responsible for pain and inflammation.
According to a 2011 study in BMJ and a 2013 review in The Lancet, people taking high-dose of NSAIDs for long durations have a greater risk of heart failure, strokes, heart attacks and death from cardiovascular diseases. In fact, a popular COX-2 selective inhibitor called Vioxx (rofecoxib) was withdrawn from the market for causing an increased risk of heart attack and strokes.
As per a leading MD in the Department of Medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center, occasional use of NSAIDs isn’t much of a problem, but taking them daily like in case of arthritis can lead to complications. Conditions such as arthritis cause severe amount of pain, so getting away from these medicines for patients is difficult. However, care needs to be taken to be aware of your existing heart risks.
Rheumatoid arthritis, obese or diabetic patients as well as people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are already at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, consuming NSAIDs can double the problem. Doctors recommend that high blood pressure and high cholesterol patients should follow strict diets, exercise regularly and lose weight to reduce the pressure at the joints. This is also helpful for patients suffering from arthritis.
A blood test or pathology lab test at one of the leading pathology labs near you can help accurately determine your medical condition. By knowing the condition of your body and problems you’re facing, your doctor can best decide whether consumption of NSAIDs is safe for you or not, and if it is, how much dose needs to be given.