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It’s generally accepted that an aspirin a day is beneficial to your heart health. Aspirin is a common over-the-counter medication which is used to treat mild or moderate pain, and reduce fever and inflammation. Aspirin also inhibits your body’s natural ability to form blood clots. In some circumstances – such as when minor cuts occur – clotting is beneficial. For those with heart disease such as atherosclerosis, blood clots that occur in the arteries can be devastating and may lead to stroke, heart attack, and in some cases, death. For some, aspirin may be a "must have" pain reliever for the medicine cabinet. (Mayo 1.)
But what about other pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs? How do they stack up when it comes to heart health? According to one nine-year Danish study, not all such drugs are created equal when it comes to your heart health. The study, led by Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen, research fellow at Copenhagen University in Hellerup, Denmark, examined patient records of 83,697 heart attack survivors. Thirty-seven percent of the patients were women and 63 percent were male. (Bioscholar 1.)
Researchers specifically looked at the relationship between the use of NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – and increased risk of additional heart attack or death. In addition, researchers examined results by the specific brand of NSAID used. Ibuprofen was the most commonly used NSAID at 23 percent. Other NSAIDs used included diclofenac or Voltaren, COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib and celecoxib. Other common NSAIDs include medications such as naproxen and Celebrex.
The study results were startling:
• One week usage of NSAIDs: 45 percent increased risk
• Three months usage of NSAIDs: 55 percent increased risk
• Increased risk of death or subsequent heart attack regardless of the type of NSAID used
• Patients using diclofenac exhibited an increased risk three times greater than those using other NSAIDs (Bioscholar 2.)
Limiting the usage of NSAIDs to low doses in heart patients is supported by the American Heart Association.