Painkillers have been sold over-the-counter and used by millions of people worldwide for hundreds of years but could this widely-used treatment increase the risk of strokes and heart disease in certain groups? We explore the risks that come with taking the nation’s most popular pain relief…A study conducted by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) saw health officials advise patients to think again when taking anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, especially if they suffer from underlying heart problems. People who have a history of heart attacks and strokes have also been advised not use the painkiller.
Six Million Prescriptions Prescribed Painkiller diclofenac is the most commonly used anti-inflammatory but research published in the journal PLOS Medicine revealed that patients using this drug have an increased risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack.
Back in 2010, six million prescriptions prescribed diclofenac as pain relief for various conditions, including back problems, arthritis, and headaches, with much more being purchased over-the-counter.40% Increased Risk of Heart Problems Whilst the European review has updated the advice given for the usage of diclofenac discouraging the overuse of the product as a painkiller, experts have also advised that the use of the drug can still provide effective relief from the aches and pains we experience in everyday life.
However, based on the research MHRA officials have advised people in the ‘at risk’ groups to steer clear of the medication altogether after the study found a 40% increased risk of heart problems for that regularly taking diclofenac.
The study found that even though experiencing the side effects and complications that come with diclofenac are extremely rare, three out of 1,000 patients using Diclofenac developed heart and circulatory problems as a direct result of using the drug for a year.
About Diclofenac Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID made using clinical manufacturing and is used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. As with any painkiller, diclofenac is sold under a variety of names such as Defiance, Diploma, Iconic and Instar. The drug is also available in a selection of tablet forms including dispersible, gastro-resistant, prolonged release and suppository, and is also available as an injection.
Diclofenac is commonly used as an everyday treatment of headaches and back pain and is also popular post-surgery. In addition to this, it offers effective relief for debilitating pain caused by arthritis, sprains, gout and migraines.
Whilst the side effects of diclofenac are heavily publicized by doctors and pharmacists, and available for all to see on commercial clinical packaging, medical experts advise patients who have had conditions like heart failure, strokes or heart disease to stop using the drug completely. Other ‘at risk’ groups include those who smoke, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or suffer from diabetes. Patients in these groups should seek medical advice before continuing use.
Despite the recent update and press coverage regarding the risk diclofenac has to certain groups, there will be an ongoing investigation into the side effects and the overall safety of the widely-used painkiller.
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