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3 Feb, 2017 12:02

Pain remedies can triple risk of heart attack – study

Pain remedies can triple risk of heart attack – study

A study has found that over-the-counter pain remedies such as Ibuprofen for treating cold and flu symptoms can increase the risk of a heart attack threefold, raising further concerns about the medication already known for upping blood pressure.

Published in Infectious Diseases Society of America, the study examined whether an acute respiratory infection and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could have a combined effect on the risk of a heart attack.

Researchers examined close to 10,000 patients in Taiwan who had suffered a heart attack over a seven-year period, using claims from National Health Insurance Program.

When taken to treat the effects of a chest infection or flu, NSAIDs were found to triple the risk of a heart attack.

The study found patients’ risk of having a heart attack was 7.2 times higher if administered NSAIDs via an intravenous drip.

Patients with an acute respiratory illness who didn’t take NSAIDs had a 2.7 times greater risk of heart attack, while those who took the painkillers without an infection had an increased risk of 1.5.

READ MORE: Female heart attack victims 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed by NHS – study

The increased risk of a heart attack from taking painkillers is not a new discovery, as painkillers can raise blood pressure and lead to heart failure. 

More research is needed to establish why NSAIDs and respiratory issues have this combined risk factor, and to find ways to manage the risk.

Acetaminophen, another pain reliever, was suggested as a safer alternative for cold and flu symptoms, although it was not examined in the study.