The common painkiller used to relieve back pain, sciatica or arthritis increases a patient’s risks of having a heart attack by 50%.
These results were included in a Danish study which was recently published in the British Medical Journal.
Research shows that the common ingredient – Diclofenac – found in many pills, is linked not only to increased risks of heart attack but also to arrhythmic heartbeats, ischemic stroke, and heart failure.
Diclofenac is also used in relief of other pains like headaches, toothache, period pain, cold and flu symptoms. Being a commonly used ingredient, the study calls for global action to reduce its use.
The ingredient is found in brands such as Voltaren, Arthrotec and more – most of these drugs are available over the counter.
Reduce the Usage of Diclofenac
According to their research, compared to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diclofenac comes with cardiovascular risks.
The research used national registry data from over 6.3 million adults in Denmark, data taken over the course of 20 years (1996 – 2016).
The increased risks appeared to apply to both men and women of all ages, no matter how low the dosage was.
Morten Schmidt (Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark), the lead researcher of the report, explains that patients should first try NSAIDs before taking last resort pills that contain diclofenac.
“Considering its cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, however, there is little justification to initiate diclofenac treatment before other traditional NSAIDs,” writes the study.
This study isn’t the first one to link diclofenac with heart disease. In 2013, an Oxford University study discovered that 3 in 1,000 people that have a moderate risk of heart disease and take 150mg a day of diclofenac for a year have an increased risk of heart attack – which would have been avoidable. One in 1,000 people would have a fatal heart attack, concluded the major Oxford University study.
The UK government has restricted the use of Diclofenac since January 2015, but in Australia and many other countries, it still can be bought over the counter.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.