Painkillers and Heart Disease: Proceed With Caution


If you're at risk for heart attack or stroke, be careful how you use over-the-counter painkillers.

For instance, aspirin has long been known to be helpful in fending off heart attacks and strokes. But a new 10-year study of nearly 40,000 people, ages 50 to 84, found that those who suddenly stopped taking their daily dose had a 60% rise in their risk of having a non-fatal heart attack—regardless of how long they had been taking the drug. The study was done by researchers at the Spanish Center for Pharmacoepidemiologic Research and published in the British Medical Journal.

While stopping aspirin is risky, using another type of painkiller, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) too much and for too long is risky, too. A recent study by University of Florida researchers, published in the American Journal of Medicine, showed that people with heart disease who frequently used NSAIDs upped their risk of heart attack or stroke by 47%. NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen.

In light of this study, Howard LeWine, chief medical editor of Harvard Health Publications, advised those who are on NSAIDs for chronic conditions to talk to their doctors about using a lower dosage, or trying other painkillers, including aspirin, cautiously.

You May Also Like

Free AgingCare Guides

Get the latest care advice and articles delivered to your inbox!


Just wanted to say that some sleeping pills will make you see things or mess up your mind my sister in-law told me that her daughter had to hide the car keys because my sister in-law would wake up and get ready to drive and go somewhere. So lets be careful,
Whenever I buy any drug over the counter, I first check with my pharmacist.I have had two minor heart attacks and have learned that many OTC drugs just aren't an option any more. When I discover something that is safe for me to use,I tend to keep a supply in my desk drawer at school,a supply in my purse, and a supply at home. I am glad this topic was brought up! School is about to start and I need to check my supply. :) Rebecca
There is little reason to start so eagerly with OTC meds when there are much healthier natural alternatives. Save the meds for last resort.