NSAIDs Dangers to Your Heart | Natural Health Blog

Date: 04/05/2018    Written by: Beth Levine

Prescription NSAIDs Put Your Heart at Risk

We all are well aware of the dangers connected to the use of prescription pain relief medications such as OxyContin and other forms of opioids. So, if your doctor prescribes a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) instead, you might feel safer. After all, it’s probably just a little stronger than the non-prescription versions such as Advil, Aleve, or even aspirin in your medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, prescription NSAIDs are a different animal. How different? Well, considering that millions of people take aspirin for heart health, quite a lot,  new research suggests that prescription-strength NSAIDs might be linked to a greater chance of experiencing an irregular heartbeat. That’s pretty much the opposite of heart health.

The study, which was conducted at the National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, found that the use of prescription NSAID pain relievers is associated with a potentially dangerous heartbeat irregularity known as atrial fibrillation or a-fib.1 The results are based on an investigation that included 57,058 Taiwanese men and women who were 45 or older. Their medical records were analyzed for the years 2000, 2005, and 2010.

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Each of the participants who had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation was matched with a corresponding individual of the same gender and age, who also had a similar history of conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or cardiovascular disease, but no atrial fibrillation. The researchers compared the paired groupings for prescription NSAID use, and they were very liberal in their definition of use. Anyone who took a prescription NSAID even one day during any of the years examined was considered to use the drugs.

Both classes of NSAIDs were evaluated, which includes the selective COX-2 inhibitors like celecoxib, etoricoxib, and rofecoxib, and the nonselective COX-1/COX-2 inhibitors such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and meloxicam. People who used nonselective NSAIDs were shown to have an 18 percent higher risk of having atrial fibrillation. And interestingly, while selective NSAIDs alone didn’t increase risk, the use of both selective and nonselective NSAIDs created a jump of 30 percent in the risk of having atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation affects the beating of the top chambers of the heart, causing an erratic beat. As the blood isn’t pumping correctly, it raises the risk of having heart failure and stroke as well. Atrial fibrillation produces no symptoms in some people, while others feel their heart rate speeding up, a fluttering in the chest, shortness of breath, anxiety, fatigue, weakness, or sweating. If you experience these symptoms, you should seek medical attention.

And, from the outcome of the current study, it would also seem that we would be smart to avoid prescription NSAIDs as they can potentially elevate your risk of developing atrial fibrillation. It’s particularly scary since the medical community at large very readily prescribes these kinds of drugs for long-term pain management, but this research showed a link even when the NSAIDs were used just once.

And over-the-counter NSAIDs also shouldn’t be taken often, as these typically lower-dose formulations can increase the likelihood of a variety of health problems. They have been associated with everything from internal bleeding to erectile dysfunction and hearing loss. Even low-dose aspirin can have serious health consequences-mostly centered around internal bleeding.

What are your alternative, safer options when you need a little pain relief? Happily, there are natural ways to address pain that don’t carry the health risks of these pharmaceutical drugs. Topical pain formulas containing cayenne, menthol, wintergreen, St. John’s Wort, and other natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatories can be very effective. To learn more about what you should look for in a formula, as well as how pain actually arises in the body, check out Jon Barron’s report entitled “Give Me Your Pain.” Internally, proteolytic enzymes can help with pain associated with systemic inflammation, and certain combinations of herbs and nutraceuticals can help with joint pain.

In addition, many types of pain respond well to other forms of treatment. Acupuncture, the Alexander Technique, and mindfulness meditation have all been shown to help alleviate pain without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. And one of the best ways to prevent pain from happening in the first place is getting a daily dose of exercise, so don’t skip those healthy workouts.

  • 1. Chuang, Shao-Yuan; et al. "Association between Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Atrial Fibrillation among a Middle-aged Population: A Nationwide Population-based Cohort." British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 20 March 2018. Accessed 27 March 2018. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bcp.13558.
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