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Pain killers double the risk of heart attack and heart failure

Bloomberg reported on Veterans' Day that pain medications, including generic ibuprofen, have been linked to higher rates of heart attack and heart failure among patients with a history of cardiac problems.  The study involved more than 58,000 patients who had previously suffered a heart attack, and more than 100,000 patients diagnosed with various levels of "heart failure". 

For patients taking Vioxx or Celebrex, the risk of heart attack or death doubled in the first ninety days.  Other common NSAIDs, including diclofenac and ibuprofen, increased the risk of subsequent heart attack or death by at least thirty percent when compared with the risk facing patients who were not taking one of these medications.  Previous heart attack patients taking Vioxx faced the highest risk of heart attack or death (2.7 times higher risk) while patients taking ibuprofen faced the lowest risk rate at 1.3 times non-drug takers.   The risk apparently varies directly with the dosage of the painkiller, as well.  Persons taking the highest dose of Celebrex (400 mg, 2x daily) tripled their chance of heart attack or stroke.  2007 sales of Celebrex totaled $2.3 billion dollars last calendar year. 

A spokeswoman for Pfizer, the maker of Celebrex pointed out that all heart attack patients face a higher risk of mortality in the first year after the event and also stressed the warning now on NSAID labels.

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