Painkillers "increase risk of heart disease"

As a chiropractor in Leeds, many of my patients will come and see me with back pain or neck pain or other joint pain. Many of these chiropractic patients will also be currently taking or have previously taken anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. Anti-inflammatory drugs are used by millions of people to treat pain and inflammation from many conditions such as back pain and neck pain.

Study raises concerns over use of painkillers

A recent study has raised concerns of side effects with anti-inflammatory medication. People who take anti-inflammatory painkillers daily could be putting themselves at an increased risk of heart disease say scientists from the Aarhus university hospital in Denmark. They looked at the habits of more than 30,000 people who took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers daily and who have atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).

Studies found that the risk of developing atrial fibrillation increased by up to 70 per cent in those taking regular pain medication for common complaints such as arthritis. An irregular heartbeat can lead to serious conditions such as heart disease, and can increase the risk of having a stroke.

Senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, Natasha Stewart, said: “Those most at risk are the elderly or people with other illnesses, such as chronic kidney disease of rheumatoid arthritis.” Stewart stressed that any risks were very small but that those with concerns should talk to their GPs.

So this research has to be viewed in context but it does show that there are known risks associated with taking medication, especially with the elderly. As I chiropractor, I never advise my chiropractic patients to stop taking prescribed medication but many of them are able to reduce the dose after a course of treatment. If manual therapy and chiropractic treatment helps them to do this and therefore reduces potential risk surely that can only be a good thing and is worth investigating further?

NB Patients reducing their medication is a personal choice and I would never recommend a patient reduce doses of prescribed medication without first discussing this with their GP.

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