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NSAIDs Linked to Increased Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

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Most of us are at least familiar with the term “arrhythmia.” Now, whether or not we really understand what an arrhythmia is, how it functions, or what causes it is an entirely different matter altogether. Imagine being at a dance and instead of gliding across the dance floor in perfect harmony with your partner and the music, you’re always one step off the beat from everyone else – either too fast, too slow, or simply in your own little dance-beat land that makes no sense to you, your partner, and certainly has no relationship at all to the music. The same is true of an arrhythmia: the heart beats too fast, too slow; or simply some place irregular place in between.

Of all the arrhythmias, the most common is an atrial fibrillation. During atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart – the atria - aren’t able to dance in step with the lower heart chambers – the ventricles. Think of it this way… the atria is auditioning for River Dance while the ventricles and trying out the latest hip hop steps – the result is not good!! Atrial fibrillation gets its name from the rapid, irregular contracting – or fibrillation – that occurs in the atria.

Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of heart failure, premature death, and stroke. Persons with high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, structural or congenital heart defects, pericarditis, prior heart attacks, sick sinus syndrome, sleep apnea, obesity, diabetes, and lung disease are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. In addition to these risk factors, a new study led by Professor Henrik Toft Sorensen at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, revealed that commonly used non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS and COX-2 inhibitors may lead to an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

NSAIDs are commonly used to treat minor conditions such as fever, menstrual cramps, arthritis, coughs, colds, headaches, and other minor or sports related injuries. In addition, NSAIDS also reduce inflammation.

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@Anon... Thank you for sharing your insight. I love to hear from people who "listen" to their own bodies and discover naturally what it takes doctors millions in research to discover. Thanks for sharing! May

July 24, 2011 - 6:00pm
EmpowHER Guest

I find it interesting that I discovered this connection on my own---I had developed afib for unknown reasons, as I have none of the major risk factors. I discovered when I took any NSAID for more than a couple of days, the arrhythmia would increase. Even after I had an afib ablation, I noticed that the NSAIDs I took for a repetitive motion injury to my right thumb, caused my heart rhythm to go off track, and I felt like the afib was coming back. It took more than 2 weeks after I stopped taking them for me to feel "normal" again.

July 23, 2011 - 8:11pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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