Over-the-counter painkillers used for treating inflammation, such as ibuprofen, may double or treble the risk of heart attacks and strokes in vulnerable people, researchers warn.
People who take the drugs occasionally for a headache or period pains are unlikely to be affected, but older people with arthritis and heart problems who take the drugs regularly and in large doses are at a higher risk.
Researchers in Switzerland analysed 31 trials involving 116,429 patients to estimate the cardiovascular risks of all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) against placebos. Previous research has suggested an increased risk of cardiovascular problems linked with the drugs. They found that ibuprofen increased the risk of stroke threefold, while diclofenac and etoricoxib had four times the risk of causing death from heart attack or stroke. Naproxen was the least harmful among the seven drugs analysed. The study is published in the British Medical Journal.