Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chronic NSAID use increases heart risk in over 50's

Recent research from the INVEST study, published in the July 2011 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, have shown that taking anti-inflammatory medication on  a long term basis can double the risk of heart attacks in the over 50's. And it's not just the newer types of NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory) that appear to be the cause, older types of medications such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen were included in the study.

The study highlights the problems the elderly, and their physicians, face with the use of all medications and their potential for mild to life-threatening side effects: the full "suite" of side effects may not be known until many decades after the medications have been released onto the market. Also, many elderly patients suffer from degenerative arthritis, low back pain and rheumatoid arthritis; and all of these conditions have an element of inflammation which could respond positively to NSAIDs.

One of the outcomes, from my perspective, is that NSAIDs should ideally, only be used for a short period of time anyway, because if they aren't resolving the acute inflammation then they shouldn't be used long term: and the study showed that intermittent users were at no higher risk than non users. There are other disease modifying agents that can be used in chronic inflammation and advice should be sought from Specialists with skills in those areas.

Message: NSAIDs are useful medications that work well short term: chronic use can lead to a range of  complications and should only be used under the strict guidance of a Physician with skills in this area.
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