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We've all fallen upon a pack of painkillers in the throes of a vicious hangover and thanked the universe for their existence, but according to recent research it's worth remembering that they don't come without their own risks.

Drawing a link between cardiac arrest and regular use of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), researchers from Finland, Germany and Canada warned doctors to communicate the risks associated with the medication before prescribing them after conducting analysis of previous studies and establishing that data relating to 450,000 individuals showed that 61,460 of them had suffered a heart attack. 

The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, illustrated the risk pattern, with authors stating that there was "a rapid onset of risk" for heart attack within the first week of use while risk was highest during the first month of taking the painkillers.

Delving further still, researchers established that taking a high dose between 8 and 30 days was 'particularly harmful' while individuals who routinely take celecoxib, ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen and rofecoxib were between 24 and 58 per cent more vulnerable to the onset of a heart attack.

Commenting on their findings, the authors explained: "Compared with non-use of NSAIDs in the preceding year, we documented that current use of all studied NSAIDs, including naproxen, was associated with an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction."

"Given that the onset of risk of acute myocardial infarction occurred in the first week and appeared greatest in the first month of treatment with higher doses, prescribers should consider weighing the risks and benefits of NSAIDs before instituting treatment, particularly for higher dose," they added.

"Whether you are being prescribed painkillers like ibuprofen, or buying them over the counter, people must be made aware of the risk and alternative medication should be considered where appropriate," surmised Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation.

Eager to assuage the fears of the public, John Smith of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain explained that the research wouldn't apply to those on lower dosages.

"People taking over-the-counter NSAIDs should not be concerned by this research if they are taking the medicine occasionally for short periods and according to the on-pack instructions."

It should be noted that high doses were considered in excess of 1,200mg a day of ibuprofen, 750mg a day of naproxen and 25mg a day of rofecoxib.


We may complain about the barrage of questioning we're faced with when we attempt to buy codeine-based painkillers at a pharmacy, but it's all for a good reason.

One Irish woman has spoken out about her two-and-a-half year struggle with codeine, which at its peak saw her taking up to 84 tablets every day.

"Two and a half years ago, I broke my ankle. I was told to take a codeine-based tablet," Bray woman Stacey Dutton explains in a Facebook post. 

"After three weeks of taking these, my ankle healed but I still continued taking the pills. I had become addicted to the codeine.

"It went from 12 a day but up to November last year, I was taking 84 a day."

Stacey goes on to explain how her addiction issues led to her life falling apart – though from the outside she appeared to be coping well.

"From a stranger's eyes, I was fine, nothing was up, I was a happy 23-year-old. But from my best friends and family's eyes I had changed big time."

"I had lost everything – a great job, my home, but most importantly I lost my [boyfriend] Chris."

Finally, just last month, Stacey decided to seek help.

"Over December I came off everything with the help of my family and a doctor. I went from 1030mg of codeine a day to just 120," she writes.

"Right now, I am packing my bag for rehab, that’s where I’ll be for the next six months.

"Codeine is not seen as a huge problem because, let's face it, you can buy it anywhere in any chemist but I'm telling you now it has ruined my life."

Stacey says she shared the post to alert others and to let anyone with a similar problem know that they're not alone.


According to new research, common painkillers could help in the fight against superbugs.

The research which was published in the Cell Press journal Chemistry and Biology says that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be able to kill bacteria found in superbugs.

NSAIDs including ibuprofen can be found in basic painkillers that many of us have in our cupboards at home.

According to Dr Aaron Oakley from the University of Wollongong in Australia, who headed the study: “The fact that the bacteria-killing effect of the anti-inflammatory drugs is different from conventional drugs means that the NSAIDS could be developed into new kinds of antibiotics that are effective against so-called superbugs.

Experts say that superbugs are currently resistant to antibiotics and the new findings could be of significance in the fight against the bacteria.

Dr Oakley led the study on bromofenac, carprofen and vedaprofen and added: “This is important because the superbugs have become resistant to many – and in some cases most – of the available antibiotics.”