Use Caution with Over the Counter Pain Relievers

Common painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen are already known to raise people’s risk of a heart attack. Now a new study shows the risk comes within the first week of using the drugs.

The study doesn’t mean that everyone should avoid taking the pills to treat headaches, lower fevers and reduce aches and pains, but does suggest people who know they have a bigger-than-average heart attack risk should avoid long-term use and high doses, the researchers said. The study involves drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS for short. They include ibuprofen, sold under brand names like Advil or Motrin; naproxen, like Aleve; as well as prescription arthritis drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors, such as Celebrex. Tylenol, known generically as
acetaminophen, is not an NSAID. The study also looked at Vioxx, a prescription drug pulled from the market in 2004 after it was shown to raise the risk of strokes and heart attacks.