L22 — May 2011 — NSAIDs and Heart Disease
Intro: Have a headache? Maybe it's knee pain from osteoarthritis. Or sore muscles from a tough workout. Chances are, when life causes aches and pains, many of us reach for the ibuprofen. Because it works. But if you also take aspirin to protect against heart disease, there are some things you need to know. Aspirin and some over-the-counter pain relievers don't mix.
Rows and rows of pain relievers line the shelves of just about every drugstore. Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen. These medications are great for aches and pains. But if you take aspirin to reduce your risk of heart attack, Dr. Stephen Kopecky says you should avoid some of the other pain relievers.
If you have heart disease, you have narrowing of the arteries to the heart. This increases your risk of developing blood clots in your arteries. When a clot forms, it closes off the artery like a cork in a bottle.
Aspirin inhibits that clotting process.
Now, there are some medicines you take that actually increase the clotting, and some of those are what we call the NSAIDs or the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that you and I know are things like ibuprofen.
NSAIDs don't cause clotting. They decrease the beneficial effects of the aspirin. So if you take aspirin for heart disease, Dr. Kopecky says you should not take NSAIDs.
I tell my patients if you have heart disease, have known arteries of the heart that are narrowed or you're at risk for heart disease, you have high cholesterol, you have high blood pressure, or you're a smoker, then don't take ibuprofen.
Dr. Kopecky says if you take aspirin for heart disease and feel the need to take an NSAID for its anti-inflammatory effect, reach for something like the naproxen instead of ibuprofen.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Dr. Kopecky says acetaminophen is OK to take. It does not inhibit the effect of aspirin. If you have questions about whether a medication is safe, talk to your doctor.
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