Bottom Line Health—October 1, 2014
What's the first thing you do when you're hurting? If you're like most people, you reach for aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or a similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Each day, more than 30 million Americans take these popular medications. Another roughly 7 million take a different class of painkiller, acetaminophen (Tylenol) each day.
The risks most people don't think about: Even though NSAIDs are as common in most American homes as Band-Aids and multivitamins, few people realize that these medications often cause stomach and intestinal bleeding that leads to up to 20,000 deaths every year in the US. And while previous studies have suggested that these drugs also threaten heart health, an important new meta-analysis found that the risks are more significant than once thought. In fact, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs—taken in doses that many people consider normal—increased the risk for "major vascular events," including heart attacks, by about one-third.
Source: Vijay Vad, MD, a sports medicine physician and researcher specializing in minimally invasive arthritis therapies at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
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