According to a recent study published in The BMJ and conducted by Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, diclofenac, a common painkiller, triggers a higher risk of heart problems, including heart attack and stroke, in comparison with paracetamol and other conventional drugs. The study’s author even recommended the ban on diclofenac over-the-counter selling and, when doctors prescribe it, to warn patients about the potential risks.
As it is used mostly to treat inflammations and pains, diclofenac, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, also known as NSAID, is broadly consumed all over the world. Commonly deemed as safe, no one ever struggled to examine its potential cardiovascular diseases risks.
The new study, however, examined this common painkiller’s negative impact on the circulatory system and found out that this drug is indeed increasing the risks of cardiovascular conditions, heart attack and stroke included, as reported by the leading author Morten Schmidt at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.
Diclofenac, a common painkiller, causes heart problems
The researchers reviewed the data of more than 6.3 million adults in Denmark which used either diclofenac or paracetamol to treat inflammation and pain. During the follow-up period, between 1996-2016, the scientists eliminated other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in the subjects who participated in the study.
After analyzing the data, the scientists found out that diclofenac increases risks of cardiovascular conditions, such as irregular heartbeat, ischaemic stroke, heart failure, and heart attack. The results were the same in both men and women of all ages, regardless of the dose intake.
However, while the relative risk increased, the absolute one remained low for the individual patient. On the other hand, paracetamol, another common painkiller, as well as ibuprofen, showed reduced risks of heart problems, compared with diclofenac.
“Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects. Considering its cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, however, there is little justification to initiate diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs,” the study concluded.