Commonly used pain meds significantly increase heart attack risk within the first week of use

Is your pain medication killing you? Recent research shows that might just be the case, as commonly used pain medications have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack. To make matters worse, this heightened level of risk develops after just one week of use. Over-the-counter pain medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can easily be purchased at the supermarket or corner store, but that doesn’t mean they are safe.

While many people pop these kinds of pills like candy, it turns out they could be doing a lot more harm than good.

It’s well known that prescription painkillers like opioids can be hazardous to your health, but OTC pain  medications are also dangerous and new research from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre has highlighted the risks associated with NSAIDs.

Pain relievers increase heart attack risk

Despite what the commercials say, it seems NSAIDs  may not be reducing your heart attack risk after all — they may actually be damaging the vital organ, instead. In the study from Canada, researchers found that all five of the NSAIDs examined contributed to an elevated risk of heart attack.

“With use for one to seven days the probability of increased myocardial infarction risk (posterior probability of odds ratio >1.0) was 92% for celecoxib, 97% for ibuprofen, and 99% for diclofenac, naproxen, and rofecoxib,” the researchers write. As an observational study, the findings are not entirely conclusive — but they certainly highlight the need for caution when taking any kind of drug, even those we tend to view as “harmless.”

Overall, the odds of having a heart attack increased by 25 to 50 percent while taking a pain reliever. The greatest increase in risk was noted during the first week of administration, but the risks continued to remain elevated for at least the first month of use.

The study authors, led by Michèle Bally, wrote , “Given that the onset of risk of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurred in the first week and appeared greatest in the first month of treatment with higher doses, prescribers should consider weighing the risks and benefits of NSAIDs before instituting treatment, particularly for higher doses.”

Past research has shown a similar increase in heart attack risk. Dr. Mike Knapton, an associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, told The Guardian that the study “worryingly highlights just how quickly you become at risk of having a heart attack after starting NSAIDs.”

“Whether you are being prescribed painkillers like ibuprofen, or buying them over the counter, people must be made aware of the risk and alternative medication should be considered where appropriate,” he added.

Natural pain relief is out there

If the clear and obvious risks of “conventional” over-the-counter pain relievers give you pause, you’re not alone. Many, many people are turning to natural remedies to relieve pain instead. Natural remedies can offer a host of health benefits along with their pain-relieving qualities, and typically have fewer (if any) adverse effects. Turmeric, a popular spice, is a great example of this: Not only can it be used to help reduce pain and inflammation, it is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with beneficial antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Another highly regarded plant medicine known for its pain-relieving properties is the cannabis plant. Cannabis can relieve many types of pain, and is far less dangerous than prescription medications like opioids. Cannabis can help people who suffer with pain related to arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer and other conditions. It has many other medicinal uses as well.

You can learn more about plant-based remedies, natural cures and more at

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