As of July 2015 the FDA has issued a stronger warning in regards to the risk for heart attack or stroke from non-aspirin medications known as non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAID's). This includes popular over the counter medications such as Ibuprofen, Aleve, Motrin and Advil. The common perception among many Americans is that these drugs do not have any adverse side effects. This information should help individuals and families make informed choices in regards to wise consumption of pain medications. The "drug facts" labels will be updated to include the following information.
- The risk of heart attack or stroke can occur as early as the first weeks of using an NSAID. The risk may increase with longer use of the NSAID.
- The risk appears greater at higher doses.
- It was previously thought that all NSAIDs may have a similar risk. Newer information makes it less clear that the risk for heart attack or stroke is similar for all NSAIDs; however, this newer information is not sufficient for us to determine that the risk of any particular NSAID is definitely higher or lower than that of any other particular NSAID.
- NSAIDs can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke in patients with or without heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. A large number of studies support this finding, with varying estimates of how much the risk is increased, depending on the drugs and the doses studied.
- In general, patients with heart disease or risk factors for it have a greater likelihood of heart attack or stroke following NSAID use than patients without these risk factors because they have a higher risk at baseline.
- Patients treated with NSAIDs following a first heart attack were more likely to die in the first year after the heart attack compared to patients who were not treated with NSAIDs after their first heart attack.
- There is an increased risk of heart failure with NSAID use.
If you find yourself taking these medications for prolonged periods or in higher than recommended doses to treat chronic or acute muscle and joint pain then you might want to reconsider your treatment methods. This is a great opportunity for you to take a different approach in managing your pain. I would love to be able to sit down with you and review the treatment options available in my office.