According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a widely used painkiller, diclofenac, has been found to pose potential risks to the health of the human heart. Diclofenac is a member of the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) group of drugs, and is easily available over the counter without a prescription. After paracetamol and ibuprofen, this is the most widely used painkiller.
The new study, conducted by researchers at Denmarkâ€™s Aarhus University Hospital, reveals that people who use diclofenac are more likely to develop risks associated with heart attacks and strokes, as compared to those who use other painkillers.
Researchers at the hospital studied data of patients who were prescribed to take diclofenac for at least a year continuously, and compared them to those who had taken another painkiller and those who had not taken any painkillers at all. The study was done from 1996 to 2016 and revealed that those taking diclofenac regularly were at a slightly higher risk of developing cardiac problems.
â€śDiclofenac is mainly broken down in the liver, weâ€™ve always known that there has been a link between excess use of paracetamol, acetaminophen and other such medications which are metabolised in the liver, and the effects those have on the liver, but this is the first time a report has come out and shown that there is a direct link between using diclofenac and heart health,â€ť says Delhi based physician Dr Tarun K. â€śThe fact that it is so easily available without a prescription is also something we have to consider. So many people take these painkillers for every little thing. We need to make them understand and aware of what exactly these medications do.â€ť
The authors of the study did state that while the overall risk for developing a heart issue was increased, risk for each individual patient remained low and added that it may be necessary for some patients to start on diclofenac to â€śimprove quality of lifeâ€ť before they were to start on other treatment as deemed necessary.