NSAID Painkillers Linked to Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: Study

A number of popular painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including Advil, Aleve, Celebrex and Motrin, could cause abnormal heart rhythms, according to a new study by Danish researchers. 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were linked to a 40% to 70% increased risk of atrial fibrillation. While the abnormal heart beat is not usually life-threatening itself, atrial fibrillation can lead to fainting, chest pains, strokes and even congestive heart failure.

The study was published this week in the British Medical Journal, involving an examination of medical records for the 1.7 million population of northern Denmark.

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Researchers concluded that doctors should factor in the risk of abnormal heart flutters when prescribing NSAIDs.

Atrial fibrillation is not the only cardiovascular problem that has been tied to the commonly used painkillers this year. In January, European researchers found that all NSAIDs appeared to increase the risk of heart problems, and all except Aleve carried an increased risk of cardiovascular death.

In June 2010, a different group of Danish researchers published a study that again found evidence of NSAID heart problems, with the recalled drug Vioxx, as well as Voltaren and Cataflam being linked to the highest risk of death due to cardiovascular problems.

Voltaren and Cataflam were also associated with double the risk of heart attack, while Vioxx was linked to triple the increased risk.

Lawsuits over Vioxx were filed by tens of thousands of people following a September 2004 recall of the drug amid reports that it increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The prescription medication, which was approved for treatment of chronic pain from arthritis and other conditions that cause acute pain, was used by more than 80 million people worldwide. Merck & Co., the manufacturer of Vioxx, reached a $4.85 billion settlement with about 50,000 plaintiffs to resolve the Vioxx litigation in 2008.

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2 Comments

  • JanOctober 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    First off I would not tell someone else what to do. This is a very psorenal decision. Myself if I'd gotten to the point that bc was the only option left I'd be sure I was charting on top of that and abstain during fertile periods to be safe. Personal experience wise . I was lucky. Mine went away after I had kids. I don't know if it was because of having kids or switching away from traditional m[Show More]First off I would not tell someone else what to do. This is a very psorenal decision. Myself if I'd gotten to the point that bc was the only option left I'd be sure I was charting on top of that and abstain during fertile periods to be safe. Personal experience wise . I was lucky. Mine went away after I had kids. I don't know if it was because of having kids or switching away from traditional menstrual products (because all can, but not necessarily do, help). Before that I kept myself drugged. I took way too much advil. It went to Aleve (and I had no clue about the consequences of that at the time). Real doses of pretty much everything stopped working because I was taking so much that week or two a month. Had one or two hospital trips (iv drugs were good). Thankfully I had a good boss once I first started working that was super nice about it. My last one wasn't so much (not sure how I survived her on multiple levels lol). Looking back I wish we'd taken me in to a dr about it because it wasn't normal but my family brushed it aside as every woman goes through that much pain and that it was normal to spend a week curled in a ball. Anyways, I survived it in an overly drug induced haze, but I don't recommend that for multiple reasons.

  • TriciaJuly 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I had an work injury in 1997 and it turned into a two year quest to find out what was wrong with me..4 doctors later,I finally found my diagnoses after going a year with severe injuries to my shoulder..amazes me how doctors can miss such things..this long wait caused me to develop RSDS..I been on so many terrible medications which caused me depression..which I still have today..I just noticed many[Show More]I had an work injury in 1997 and it turned into a two year quest to find out what was wrong with me..4 doctors later,I finally found my diagnoses after going a year with severe injuries to my shoulder..amazes me how doctors can miss such things..this long wait caused me to develop RSDS..I been on so many terrible medications which caused me depression..which I still have today..I just noticed many I was on was recalled in the past..The one did most damage was Nuerontin.Today I suffer severe memory loss from it..My family had to get me off of it years ago because it "changed" me..I was falling asleep driving it got so bad...I am worse today then I was back in 1998..it has ruined my career and life..I was told years ago by my attorney there was nothing I can do..would cost too much..So here I sit,in severe pain..depression..jobless and on SSI...Just seems wrong.

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