Painkiller linked to increased risk of heart problems

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Diclofenac should not be available over the counter, and when prescribed, should be accompanied by an appropriate front package warning about its potential risks'.

"It is time to acknowledge the potential health risk of diclofenac and to reduce its use", Schmidt and colleagues wrote in their study, which was published on September 4.

"Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be worthwhile for some patients to improve quality of life despite potential side effects", the authors in Denmark wrote. But given the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, there is little justification for starting a diclofenac treatment before testing other traditional NSAIDs, "the researchers concluded".

When all these simulated trials was averaged out, people who took diclofenac were 50 per cent more likely to have cardiovascular problems in the first 30 days after use than were people who took nothing. Scientists should also avoid using diclofenac as a reference point to compare other NSAIDs and painkillers against in safety trials, given its unique risks, they said.

Diclofenac is used for treating pain and inflammation.

Experts have analyzed the cardiovascular risks that come together with diclofenac compared to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Researchers noted that this is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

"After taking account of potentially influential factors, starting diclofenac during the study period was associated with an increased rate of major adverse cardiovascular events within 30 days compared with starting other traditional NSAIDs (ibuprofen or naproxen) or starting paracetamol".

Daily Mail reported that researchers found that the increased risks applied to men and women of all ages and also to those who are taking low doses of the ingredient.

The additional cardiovascular events increased further in the high-risk group, with extra cardiovascular events seen in 39 out of 1000 patients per year, compared with no NSAIDs.

Furthermore, a connection between taking diclofenac and the increased rate of upper gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiac death was found.

Diclofenac is a NSAID used for treatment of pain and inflammation with the brand names Voltaren, Cataflam and Zipsor. But given other research showing a similar heightened risk, the authors say it's clear that diclofenac needs to be more carefully handled, if not phased out of use completely.

By the way, the worst result was recorded for those people who took the drug at a lower dose than this required.

They used an open registry of over 6.3 million adults in Denmark, with patients split into low, moderate and high baseline cardiovascular risk.

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