Nine Pain Killers May Raise the Risk of Heart Failure Hospitalization

Pill bottles

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), drugs widely used to treat pain, are thought to increase the risk of heart failure in some patients. A new study has found that several prescribed NSAIDs are associated with a significantly increased risk of hospital admission for heart failure in the two weeks after use, but that the increase in risk can vary greatly depending on the drug in question and the sex of the individual.

For five of these drugs (diclofenac, etoricoxib, indomethacin, piroxicam, and rofecoxib), very high doses raised the risk of hospitalization for heart failure by more than twofold. These risks were the same whether or not people had been previously diagnosed with the disease.

NSAIDs Associated with Increased Risk of Hospital Admission for Heart Failure (Odds ratio)

In Men
(in descending order of risk)

In Women
(in descending order of risk)

Ketoralac (Toradol®) (1.86)

Ketoralac (Toradol®) (1.96)

Etoricoxib (Arcoxia®) (1.80)

Etoricoxib (Arcoxia®) (1.45)

Indomethacin (Indocin®, Tivorbex®) (1.71)

Rofecoxib (Vioxx®) (1.37)

Rofecoxib (Vioxx®) (1.35)

Piroxicam (Feldene®) (1.31)

Piroxicam (Feldene®) (1.34)

Indomethacin (Indocin®, Tivorbex®) (1.25)

Nimesulide* (1.31)

Diclofenac (e.g., Voltaren®, Cataflam®) (1.19)

Naproxen (e.g., Aleve®) (1.24)

Nimesulide* (1.17)

Diclofenac (e.g., Voltaren®, Cataflam®) (1.21)

Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®, Motrin®) (1.16)

Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®, Motrin®) (1.18)

Naproxen (e.g., Aleve®) (1.15)

* Not approved for use in Canada

The study looked specifically at prescribed NSAIDs, not over-the-counter use. The analysis showed associations between the drugs and hospitalizations but could not show cause and effect. In addition, the researchers only looked at the odds of this increased risk. They could not calculate the actual number of hospitalizations for heart failure that might result from NSAID use.

A clinical trial examining the safety of three NSAIDs in patients with or at high risk of heart disease is expected to release its first results in November.

Share This