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.

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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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