A new study published in the journal, Circulation, has warned that taking some of the most commonly used painkillers could increase the risk of suffering from heart attacks or strokes even when taken in small doses.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Copenhagen University in Denmark, observed more than 83,000 patients who had recently recovered from heart attacks and who were prescribed some of the most commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac and ibuprofen.
The researchers found that taking the drugs increased the risk of fatal heart attacks by more than 45 percent within a week of being prescribed while the risk increased to 55 percent when the drug was used for more than three months.
Diclofenac was found to pose the most danger, increasing the risk by as much as three times while other drugs such as ibuprofen, Celebrex (celecoxib) and Vioxx (rofecoxib) were also found have a detrimental effect.
"There is no apparent safe therapeutic window for NSAIDs in patients with prior heart attack. It is a huge problem. These drugs are very commonly used and not all physicians are aware", lead researcher Dr Gunnar Gislason said.