London, March 18: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often prescribed to treat a variety of painful conditions but popping these pain-killers may be putting you at the risk of ulcers, increased blood pressure and heart problems, warns a new study.
"It's been well known for a number of years that newer types of NSAIDs -- what are known as COX-2 inhibitors -- increase the risk of heart attacks," said Morten Schmidt from Denmark's Aarhus University, who was in-charge of the study.
"For this reason, a number of these newer types of NSAIDs have been taken off the market again. We can now see that some of the older NSAID types, particularly Diclofenac, are also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and apparently to the same extent as several of the types that were taken off the market," Schmidt added.
The study, published in the European Heart Journal, emphasised that arthritis medicine is particularly dangerous for heart patients, and also that older types of arthritis medicine, which have not previously been in focus, also appear to be dangerous for the heart.
"This is worrying, because these older types of medicine are frequently used throughout the western world and in many countries available without prescription," Schmidt noted.
The study was carried out in collaboration between 14 European universities and hospitals. The researchers gathered all research on the use of NSAIDs in patients with heart disease.
"When doctors issue prescriptions for NSAIDs, they must in each individual case carry out a thorough assessment of the risk of heart complications and bleeding," said professor Christian Torp-Pedersen from Aalborg University.
"NSAIDs should only be sold over the counter when it comes with an adequate warning about the associated cardiovascular risks. In general, NSAIDs are not be used in patients who have or are at high-risk of cardiovascular diseases," the professor added.
NSAIDs are not antibiotics and therefore do not help to fight infections caused by bacteria.
These drugs are particularly used in the treatment of disorders related to the muscular and bone system, where they counteract swelling, pain and limitations in movement associated with inflammation.