Painkillers and heart disease link

There’s no schoolboy pun for this title blog entry or even a particularly whizzy picture . There are serious issues here relating the use of anti inflammatory painkiller drugs to a significant rise in the risk of heart disease. A report in the journal “What doctors don’t tell you” recently highlights the risks associated with these commonly prescribed painkillers. Of particular concern in this area are diclofenac and a class of drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors. Diclofenac it’s reported is associated, even at low doses, with a 22% increased risk of a cardiovascular event. Ibuprofen (nurofen) is, likewise associated with an 18% higher risk, though only at higher doses (above1200 mg/day). It’s been known for some time that there’s an increased risk of gastrointestinal problems (including peritonitis and death – a fairly major “problem” I’d say) with anti inflammatories. But this heart disease risk is, so far, little known. The Cox-2 antiinflammatory drugs include etoricoxib, more commonly called Arcoxia, which is approved for use in many countries worldwide but notably not in the USA where the FDA have asked for more information on the risk/benefit ratio. Indeed this is from the same class of drugs as Vioxx, an infamous drug that was withdrawn in 2004 after the appalling side effects that were discovered.

I often hear from people when they start their care that they’re taking all sorts of painkillers.  There is no doubt in my mind after seeing thousands of patients that, if you do take a plethora of drugs,  you will get sicker. We had a poor chap in some while ago who was on 23 different drugs! He was not elderly either and it was clear to him, and to us, that many of these were to minimise the side effects of some of the other drugs. He was in a very bad way indeed. It may seem obvious but people don’t get headaches from a lack of aspirin or indigestion because your body’s run out of gaviscon. The same applies to the vast majority of medication. They are mostly designed to reduce the symptoms and not address the cause. Often it’s for an emergency – something needs doing. Often though it’s like throwing a drowning man a fire extinguisher. Wrong solution! Another analogy that I often use is that – If you have a physical problem (neck, back strain etc) then giving people a chemical solution is like giving someone who’s been poisoned some exercises to do! If you something as daft as that you’re giving a chemical solution to a physical problem.

I urge you to look into the side effects of medication before you consider taking it. Look at the leaflets, look on the web (reputable sites such as WDDTY or remember that the drug companies have a vested interest in you continuing to take a drug. Only recently there was more evidence of major pharmaceutical companies being “selective”  in the data that they release. They don’t release much info about the drugs that “work” because they don’t want their competitors to know what’s happening to protect their patents. If they have some doubtful results they have been known to skew their results to help their case, by a bit of artful jiggery-pokery, because they’ve invested millions by that stage.

I actually started to write this post in the winter and have been so busy that I hadn’t managed to get round to finishing it off. Then I saw in the news, at the end of February, that it was breaking news. So you can see some of the items that crop up in WDDTY make into the BBC some time later! There’s been more on the Diclofenac issue only recently. Eventually I have managed to get round to putting this out there. I feel bad that it’s taken me a while to finish this off but by comparison with the years it takes for the bad news to filter out into the mainstream about certain drugs I’m lightning fast!

Please…before you or your family or friends take pharmaceutical drugs look closely at the side effects AND check if they are necessary or even effective.

Till next time

Neil Folker DCFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail