An association between arthritis drug Celebrex and heart valve calcification has been identified by Vanderbilt University researchers.
W. David Merryman, professor of biomedical engineering, and Ph.D. student Megan Bowler started out by testing celecoxib, the active compound in Celebrex, on valve cells in an effort to see if it could double as an aortic stenosis therapy. It made the problem worse.
To confirm their theory about a link between celecoxib and valve calcification, Merryman, who is also a professor of pharmacology, medicine and pediatrics at Vanderbilt, recruited Michael Raddatz, an M.D./Ph.D. student, to analyze more than 8,600 relevant, anonymous patient records from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Raddatz checked whether there was a link between Celebrex use and aortic valve disease, and, after correcting for other risk factors, discovered that patients who had taken Celebrex had a 20 percent increased prevalence of valve disease.
The 2016 New England Journal of Medicine study that found Celebrex no more damaging than naproxen and ibuprofen only looked at cardiovascular death and nonfatal heart attack or stroke, not valve disease, which affects more than a quarter of the U.S. population older than 65.
"In this study, we're adding a long-term perspective on celecoxib use," said Bowler, who recently earned her Ph.D. "Calcification in the aortic valve can take many years. So if you're at a higher risk for it, you might want to consider taking a different painkiller or rheumatoid arthritis treatment."
Merryman said he intends to keep testing dimethyl celecoxib for its beneficial effects on heart valve health.