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Daily Ibuprofen Use May Increase Heart Attack Risk

A recent study published in the August 2008 issue of Arthritis Care and Research indicates that Ibuprofen may increase the risk of heart attack in the elderly when taken daily.

In the study, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston analyzed the connection between cardiovascular complications and the use of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) inhibitors and nonselective nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Cox-2 inhibitors are a new form of NSAID drugs that inhibit the COX-2 enzyme. Regulating production of this enzyme slows down chemical messengers called prostaglandins, which are responsible for the pain and swelling of arthritis.

NSAIDS are an older form of Cox-2 inhibitors. They have a similar mechanism for reducing pain and swelling but rather than inhibiting COX-2 enzyme, they block it completely. These drugs also block COX-1 enzyme which helps produce the mucus which lines and protects our stomach.

For the study, researchers reviewed medical records from two databases of Medicare recipients who were enrolled in beneficiary programs between 1999-2004. They identified 76,082 new Cox-2 users, 53,014 new traditional NSAID users and 46,588 patience who did not use either. Researchers then compared the rates cardiac events like myocardial infarction [MI], stroke, congestive heart failure and cardiovascular death among the three groups.

The study found that Vioxx users had the highest rate of heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke while naproxen users had the lowest. Vioxx was pulled off the market in 2004 after research showed it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Ibuprofen was the only over the counter drug that showed increased risk for cardiac events. Users saw an 11.4% increase when compared to non-users.

Today there are several natural alternatives to help fight pain and inflammation. Some of the more popular are glucosamine, microlactin, boswellia and hyaluronic acid.
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