Researchers at the University of Newcastle report that the use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, etc. is associated with a significantly increased risk of congestive heart failure. Heart failure is a common condition among the elderly. It is estimated that 500,000 Americans develop the disorder every year and that almost 2.5 million currently suffer from it. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is also common in Australia where more than 10 in every 1000 people over 65 years of age are admitted to hospital with CHF every year. The study involved 365 patients who were admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of CHF and 658 controls who were admitted for other reasons. The researchers discovered that the use of NSAIDs (other than low-dose aspirin) in the week prior to admission was associated with a doubling of the risk of CHF. Patients with a history of heart disease were 10 times more likely to develop CHF if they had used NSAIDs than if they had not. Compared with the study participants who did not have heart disease and did not use NSAIDs, the participants who had a history of heart disease and used NSAIDs had a 26 times greater risk of being admitted with CHF.
NSAIDs with a long plasma half-life were associated with a
particularly high incidence of CHF. Patients with a history of
heart disease who had used naproxen, piroxicam or tenoxicam were
24 times more likely to develop CHF than were heart patients who
had not used any NSAIDs. The researchers caution heart patients
against using the long-acting NSAIDs and conclude that 19 per cent
of all patients admitted to Australian hospitals with CHF got
there because of their use of NSAIDs. Translated to the situation
in the United States, this means that almost 100,000 people
develop CHF every year because of their use of NSAIDs. This
number of "casualties" is similar to the number of people admitted
to hospital with major gastrointestinal tract bleeding and ulcer
perforation caused by the use of NSAIDs. NOTE: This study
was funded in part by Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd, a major
manufacturer of pharmaceuticals.