A widely used analgesic appears to be associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events such as strokes.
Diclofenac, a widely used international drug with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious cardiovascular problems, so its use should be done with moderation rather than for a long time.
A new international scientific study, which compared this drug with paracetamol and other traditional analgesics, resulted in this conclusion-warning. The researchers noted that diclofenac should not be available without prescription, and its packaging should now be labeled as a warning about the potential dangers it poses.
Diclofenac is a medicine that belongs to the category of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and is used to treat pain and inflammation in many countries of the world (Greece is available only from pharmacies and is not prescribed).
Researchers at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, led by Dr. Morten Schmidt, who published the publication in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), studied data for more than 6.3 million people, comparing those who had taken nidofenac (mean age 46 years) with those who had taken paracetamol, other NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen) or NSAIDs.
There was an increased incidence of serious cardiovascular events among those who had taken diclofenac for one month. The problems included cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, ischemic stroke, stroke, premature death of cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal haemorrhage. The increased risk exists for both sexes irrespective of age, and even for low doses of the drug.
“Treatment of pain and inflammation with NSAIDs may be of value to some patients to improve their quality of life despite possible side effects. But given the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, there is little justification for starting a diclofenac treatment before testing other traditional NSAIDs, “the researchers concluded.
However, although the relative risk – relative to other drugs – is increased, they have indicated that the absolute risk of diclofenac remains low for patients.