PAGB response to case-time-control study on NSAIDs and an increased risk of cardiac arrest

Published on: 15 March 2017


A case-time-control study, published in European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy and carried out by Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte in Denmark, has suggested that commonly used prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), used for treating pain and inflammation, are associated with an increased risk of cardiac arrest.

John Smith, PAGB Chief Executive, said:

“The authors admit that the study has several limitations and highlight that it reports only associations and therefore any conclusions should be made with caution. This observational study analysed people on the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry who had redeemed a prescription for NSAIDs during the 30 days before they suffered a cardiac arrest. Information about daily dosage was only based on estimates rather than accurate data and didn’t account for over-the-counter (OTC) use. Prescribed NSAIDs would normally contain a higher dosage than those medicines available OTC and would typically be used for longer durations.

“Within the study, NSAID users were found more often to be women who were likely to have cancer or rheumatic diseases. NSAID users in the study were also frequently being treated with morphine, diuretics and psychiatric medication, which could have contributed to their cardiac risk. The authors of the study also state that the cardiac arrest could be influenced by transient factors, such as an increase in the severity of a disease, as the cause of the cardiac arrest is not registered on the database.

“NSAIDs available OTC, such as ibuprofen, are an effective and appropriately safe way to provide short-term pain relief if used in accordance with the clear on-pack instructions and the patient information leaflet inside. NHS Choices recommends NSAIDs to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and bring down a temperature.

“It is important for people with a history of heart disease or other long term condition to speak to a pharmacist before taking any OTC medicine to check for any potential drug interactions or health concerns. OTC medicines should only be taken in accordance with the on-pack instructions and patient information leaflet. Anyone who has concerns about taking a medicine should speak to a pharmacist for advice.”

PAGB response to NSAIDs increased risk of cardiac arrest