Arthritis Patients’ Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Increase Benefit of Aspirin in Preventing Heart Attack

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Patients on low-dose aspirin therapy who had been prescribed a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in the first year following a heart attack were less likely to suffer a recurrent acute heart attack in that year compared to those who had not been prescribed an NSAID, according to research presented recently at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

While aspirin is known for its benefits to patients with heart problems, it is not known whether NSAIDs also provide similar benefits. Moreover, the use of both by heart patients has previously been unstudied. In this study, researchers conducted a population-based study of 28,881 patients 66 years of age or older to examine the interaction between aspirin therapy and NSAIDs (such as diclonfenac, naproxen or ibuprofen) in patients who had already had a heart attack. They found that patients on aspirin therapy who were also taking an NSAID were significantly less likely to suffer repeat heart problems. The results of this study suggest that NSAIDs may increase the amount of cardioprotection afforded by aspirin therapy in patients with known heart disease. Analysis of the data is ongoing, and researchers are investigating whether results could be influenced depending upon the type of NSAID prescribed.

“Heart disease is prevalent and NSAID use is common, which means that the interaction between aspirin and NSAID use may have a large public health impact,” said Marie Hudson, MD, FRCPC from McGill University, and a lead investigator in the study. “In our study population of patients with heart disease who were on aspirin therapy, the use of NSAIDs may have contributed to decreasing the risk of recurrent heart attacks. However, further analysis of the data will confirm these results and may yield insight into any differences among different kinds of NSAIDs.”

The American College of Rheumatology is the professional organization for rheumatologists and health professionals who share a dedication to healing, preventing disability and curing arthritis and related rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. For more information on the ACR’s annual meeting, see www.rheumatology.org.

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