Features April 2012 Issue

The Hidden Dangers of Painkillers

Common anti-inflammatory drugs may cause cardiac, gastrointestinal, and renal side effects, so use them with caution and explore your options.

You may not think twice about reaching for an ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to battle the agony of arthritis pain. But NSAIDs may not be your best option if you have heart disease, cardiovascular risk factors, kidney problems, or a history of gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Evidence suggests that NSAID use may be associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and GI problems. And even over-the-counter varieties pose these risks, particularly in higher-than-recommended doses. Consequently, NSAIDs should be used with caution, and people at higher risk of cardiovascular or GI disorders should consider alternatives for managing their arthritis pain, Cleveland Clinic experts recommend.

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