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Taking painkillers may up risk of second heart attack

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Research has suggested that people taking painkillers such as ibuprofen face a greater risk of suffering a second heart attack.

The study into non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) comes after past research already raised awareness of the risks surrounding the drugs.

At the beginning of the year researchers found that people taking NSAIDs for the long-term or in high doses faced a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.

But now a team from Copenhagen University in Denmark has linked the drugs to a 45% increased risk of death or recurrent heart attack within as little as one week of treatment.

The increased risk persisted, at 55%, during a three-month course of treatment.

Among 83,697 heart attack survivors who were aged 68 on average, 42.3% had been given at least one prescription for an NSAID following their attack.

The most common NSAIDs given on prescription were ibuprofen (23% of the group) and diclofenac (13.4%).

All NSAIDs were associated with an increased risk of death or recurrent heart attack, with diclofenac having the highest risk, the study showed.

Lead author Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen, said: “Overall, NSAID treatment was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of death. Our results indicate that there is no apparent safe therapeutic window for NSAIDs in patients with prior heart attack.”

The NSAID naproxen was not associated with an increased risk of death or recurrent heart attack.

Dr Olsen said: “A very conservative approach to use NSAIDs in patients with prior heart attack is warranted.”

The research was published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

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