Two months ago, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued stronger warnings concerning non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) causing an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Some examples of these NSAIDs include Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and any other drug solely containing or with other medicine combinations containing ibuprofen or naproxen. Now, you can imagine that news like this is concerning. These NSAIDs are very commonly used.
These NSAIDs are commonly used for relieving pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatic arthritis, gout, fever, headaches, tooth aches, backaches, muscle aches, tendinitis, sprains, strains, menstrual cramps, and other similar conditions. The most recent research has shown an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients taking these NSAIDs, even if they are taken for a few weeks. The FDA is mandating that manufacturers change their product inserts and labeling to indicate these newest risks. The patients with the most risk are those who have had a recent heart attack or a recent cardiac bypass. So with these drugs being so commonly used for very common ailments and conditions, what is a patient to do?
The FDA has thankfully offered some suggestions for patients and their use of these NSAIDs. This is what they offer:
- If you must use NSAIDs, use the lowest dose possible for the shortest period of time.
- Check other medications you may be taking to assure you are not “doubling up” on these NSAIDs. Many other medications may have a combination of drugs, one of which may be an NSAID.
- Read drug inserts to become more familiar with your medications.
- If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, consult with your physician prior to using NSAIDs.
- If symptoms of heart problems or stroke occur, stop taking the NSAID and get medical help. These symptoms may include chest pain, breathing difficulty, sudden weakness of part of your body, and sudden slurring.
- Patients with a history of current smoking or use of tobacco, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, can make some changes in their lifestyle or medical management to decrease their own individual risks of heart disease and stroke. These patients should follow the recommendations of their physicians.
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