The way many people use painkillers seem to suggest that there is no risk involved, especially when such painkillers are prescribed by a doctor or a qualified pharmacist.
Yet, millions of people are increasing their risk of a heart attack just by taking painkillers, research reveals.
Experts say there is an added danger, even within the first week of taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that relieve pain.
The highest risk was found to be in the first month of taking the drugs and to those on a high daily dose.
Researchers from Canada, Finland and Germany analysed data on 450,000 people, including 61,460 who had suffered a heart attack, and urged doctors to consider the risks before giving the commonly prescribed drugs.
The team’s study, published in The BMJ medical journal, found that whether one uses the painkillers for longer than one month or shorter period, the risks are the same.
It also found that the overall risk of a heart attack under the circumstances rose between 24 per cent and 58 per cent, compared with not using these drugs.
The authors said: “Given that the onset of risk of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurred in the first week and appeared greatest in the first month of treatment with higher doses, prescribers should consider the risks and benefits of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”
Dr. Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation, was alarmed by how quickly the risks set in.
He said: “Whether you’re prescribed painkillers or buy them, people must be made aware of the risk and alternative medication should be considered.”
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