We are all familiar with the cardiac risks of anti-inflammatory medications, called COX-2 inhibitors, such as Vioxx. In fact, this medication was pulled off the market in 2004 due to its proven association with heart attacks. However, more and more evidence is being published about the dangers of other, more common, NSAID use in patients with heart disease.
One new question physicians are asking: is ibuprofen safe if you’ve had a heart attack?
A recent study compared the health of patients that took NSAIDs after their heart attack to patients who didn’t take them. Patients that took ibuprofen, diclofenac or celecoxib (Celebrex) all had a significantly higher chance of having a recurrent heart attack and dying. This risk was evident even more than 5 years following their first heart attack. Naproxen had the lowest risk of these NSAIDs, but there was still some evidence of poor outcome in the early years following a heart attack (<5 years).
The bottom line? Avoid NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Aleve) if you’ve had a heart attack and talk to your primary care physician about alternatives.
About Dr. Susan Szulc
Susan V. Szulc, MD, is a board-certified internist with Bon Secours Medical Associates at Virginia Beach. She received her bachelor of science in microbiology from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Dr. Szulc earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va., where she also completed a residency in internal medicine. Dr. Szulc is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She is a member of the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians and American Medical Women’s Association. Dr. Szulc’s special interests include palliative care and hypertension.