How dangerous are NSAIDS?

Headlines in the media (June 11, 2005) state "Study: NSAIDS may up heart attack risk". The reason for these headlines - a new report in the British Journal of Medicine (11 June, 2005) titled "Differences in outcome of patients with congestive heart failure prescribed celecoxib, rofecoxib, or NSAIDS: population based study".

So should people avoid taking Ibuprofen, Aleve™, or similar medications? Here are some quick answers:

  1. First and foremost, this is not a study involving the population at large. The conclusions pertain specifically to patients hospitalized with congestive heart failure!
  2. The study compares the relative risk of NSAIDS (e.g., Ibuprofen, Aleve™) and rofecoxib (vioxx™), compared to celecoxib (celebrex™).
  3. The margin of error is such, that one cannot draw any definite conclusion with respect to the risk of NSAIDs compared to celecoxib.
  4. The study finds that rofecoxib does carry a slightly higher risk (between 1.09 and 1.49) relative to celecoxib. This is already well known, and one of the reasons that vioxx™ was withdrawn from the market.
  5. This type of study is not as reliable as studies in which a placebo is used.
Our conclusion - if you need to take NSAIDs, there is no reason to be worried about their risk. If there is a slightly higher risk, it is certainly minimal.

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Last Modification - June 12, 2005