Aspirin: Is It As Safe As You Think It Is?

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aspirinAspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are used to treat a number of conditions; most commonly for muscular and skeletal pain resulting from inflammation.

You might not think twice about taking an “Advil” or “Motrin”—and you sure won’t question your safety if you’ve been prescribed a painkiller by your doctor—but are painkillers as safe as you think they are?

Study Shows How Dangerous Aspirin Can Be

But a new study shows that NSAIDs can be quite dangerous for some people, especially for those who have experienced heart failure, heart attacks, or other cardiovascular troubles.
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This should be especially concerning for those suffering from arthritis and taking prescription drugs for treatment. Newer types of NSAIDs called COX-2 inhibitors have been made largely unavailable because they increase heart attack risk, but researchers have never really looked at how the older ones might be doing the same thing. What’s scary is that these older drugs are still in use.

Most people you know have taken NSAIDs at some point in their lives, and the frequency only increases with age. About 60% of the adult population in Denmark takes at least one prescription NSAID in a 10-year period, and most Western countries have far higher rates of use than the Danes. And people who are high-risk take them, too.

The study was conducted by 14 European universities and hospitals, including a number of leading heart specialists in Europe. They’ve concluded that doctors need to stop prescribing NSAIDs with such freedom, make their decision based on the personal requirements of each patient, and never give them to a person who is at a high risk for cardiovascular disease or who already has it.

Over-the-Counter Doesn’t Mean Safe

So what about the aspirin you’ve been taking once a day? Just because something is bought over-the-counter doesn’t mean it’s safe. If you’re taking a daily aspirin—which is an NSAID—talk to your doctor. Unless you’ve been given instructions to do so, taking it could do more harm than good.

When inflammation flares up it can be quite easy—and appealing—to reach for the pill bottle. But the best way to fight inflammation is by preventing it in the first place. You can limit your need for medication by increasing physical activity and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. These lifestyle choices can fight back against the pain and discomfort of inflammation, without posing the same kinds of risks to your heart.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Elder, R. S., et al., “The crunch effect: Food sound salience as a consumption monitoring cue,” Food Quality and Preference, 2016; doi:10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.02.015.
Mammoser, G., “Why You Shouldn’t Eat Dinner While Watching TV,” Vice Food web site, March 21, 2016; https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/why-you-shouldnt-eat-dinner-while-watching-tv?utm_source=vicefbca, last accessed March 22, 2016.


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Adrian Newman, B.A.

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Adrian has been working in the information publishing world since 1997. But when it comes to health information, he’s a self-admitted late bloomer. A couch potato since pre-school, Adrian was raised on TV, video games and a lifestyle that led to childhood obesity that followed him well into adulthood. But when he hit his forties, he decided enough was enough. He had a family to take care of and his days of overeating, under-exercising and inactivity were going to lead... Read Full Bio »