I’ve been blogging on the risks of NSAIDs for years. It’s amazing that every patient I tell about the cardiac risks of these drugs seems to be completely surprised, like telling someone a spaceship just parked itself above the city. Now a new study shows a new, but related risk. Motrin and similar drugs significantly increase the risk of your heart stopping!
Is Cardiac Arrest the Same as a Heart Attack?
Cardiac arrest and a heart attack are two different things. In a heart attack, something, like a clot, or a piece of ruptured plaque which breaks loose from an artery, blocks the blood supply to a section of the heart. While permanent damage can be done to that area, the person usually remains conscious because the heart is still pumping blood throughout the body. In cardiac arrest, the heart literally just stops beating completely, so no blood is being pumped through the body or to the brain. Unless the heart can be restarted with a defibrillator, the person dies a very quick death.
NSAID Warnings are Not New
Before this specific motrin cardiac arrest risk finding, several warnings have been put out regarding the use of NSAIDS and cardiac risk, heart attack risk and stroke risk over time. We’ve been very vocal about their use because patients who deal with pain are one of the populations most likely to use NSAIDS because of their anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. We make it clear to patients receiving treatment not to use them as in addition to the above risks, studies have found that NSAIDs like Celebrex contribute to the production of bad joint chemicals and limit the production of good ones.
Motrin Cardiac Arrest Risk Study
The new Study was performed in Denmark and included almost 29,000 subjects who had a cardiac arrest, not in a hospital, between 2001 to 2010. In order to identify what factors had posed additional risk, data from these patients was compared to an even larger control group with similar demographics and known cardiac risk factors. The results were concerning in two ways. One, Ibubrophen, which is sold as Motrin and Advil and is the most commonly used over the counter NSAID in the US caused a 31% increased risk of cardiac arrest, and perhaps even more concerning was the fact that longterm use wasn’t necessary for cardiac arrest to occur. Use for as short as a week had caused the problem in some patients. Varying risk was ascertained for other NSAIDs like Naproxen Sodium, (Aleve), Celicoxib (Celebrex) with prescription Diclofenac (Voltaren) being the highest at 50%
If NSAIDs Increase Cardiac Arrest Risk, What Can I Take for My Joint Pain?
Joint pain is a complex problem, and unfortunately many of the medications to treat the issue bring unacceptable risks. In addition to cardiac risk, Aleve causes the production of defective cartiage and NSAIDs in general are associated with Injury to the GI tract. Thankfully, there are several safe alternatives to help with pain and inflammation. Curcumin with Bioperrine has been shown in many studies to be a very effective for pain, glucosamine and chondroitin are as good as Celebrex for inflammation and good quality fish oil can turn bad inflammation into healing. If safe supplements are not enough, regenerative medicine treatment that uses your own stem cells and platelets to help joints rather than replace them are available.
The upshot? I just watched an Advil commercial on TV. Lots of very active young and middle-aged people climbing mountains and running. Somehow I didn’t see a single warning about heart attack risk or anything else? This stuff is not safe boys and girls! So walk pass the NSAID aisle, avoid Motrin, Advil, Alleve, and Naproxen and consider taking safe supplements for joint pain and inflammation. Or alternatively, keep popping this stuff to get that last ski run in or to be able to hit it at the gym, just make sure your life insurance is paid up and your affairs are in order!