Taking Ibuprofen can increase risk of cardiac arrest, scientists warn

Evrard Martin
Mars 16, 2017

Other medicines from the same family of painkillers, known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), posed similar dangers.

"Allowing these drugs to be purchased without a prescription, and without any advice or restrictions, sends a message to the public that they must be safe", Gunnar H. Gislason, a professor of cardiology at Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte in Denmark, said in a press release.

All patients who had an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Denmark between 2001 and 2010 were identified from a national registry.

Data was also collected on all NSAID prescriptions from Danish pharmacies from 1995.

They included diclofenac, which raised the risk by 50%, and was available over the counter in the United Kingdom until 2015.

How Was The Study Conducted?

The current study investigated the link between NSAID use and cardiac arrest. The risk of OHCA associated with NSAIDs use was calculated by matching 4 controls on gender and age per case to adjust for differences in drug use over time.

They found that 3,376 people with cardiac arrest had taken an NSAID in the 30 days before their cardiovascular event. Diclofenac and Ibuprofen, were found to be the commonly used NSAIDs in the attack cases, with the former counting up to 51 percent and the latter covering 22 percent of NSAID usage.

A study of nearly 29,000 patients found any NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) increased the risk of a cardiac arrest by nearly a third (31 percent).

If you can buy these drugs in a convenience store then you probably think "they must be safe for me". Gislason recommended that patients with cardiovascular disease use particular caution with NSAIDs, or avoid them all together. He points out that most cases of cardiac arrest in the study were in elderly people with existing risk factors, not people who were otherwise young and healthy. A significantly increased risk of OHCA was seen with the use of diclofenac (odds ratio [OR] 1.50, 95% CI: 1.23-1.82) and ibuprofen (OR 1.31, 95% CI: 1.14-1.51).

It's thought NSAIDs exert numerous effects on the cardiovascular system, which could explain the link with cardiac arrest. In addition to helping to relieve pain and reduce fever, the drug also interferes with blood formation and causes arteries to constrict which increases fluid retention and raises blood pressure, The Independent reported. The general perception is that ibuprofen is a pretty safe drug, the small risk of stomach ulcers aside, and that's why it is available in large quantities for low prices over the counter.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, adds to previous research on the risks of NSAIDs.

Prof Gislason said: 'Our study adds to the evidence about the adverse cardiovascular effects of NSAIDs and confirms that they should be taken seriously, and used only after consulting a healthcare professional'.

Other reports by CampDesrEcrues

Discuss This Article