Cyclo-oxygenase-2 selective inhibitors and non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with increased risk of acute cardiovascular events. Only aspirin offers primary and secondary cardiovascular prophylaxis, but trials have not answered directly whether low-dose aspirin is cardioprotective with COX-2 inhibitors. In a review published in the Lancet, researchers from Stanford University attempted to address the question of whether COX-2 inhibitors are preferable to non-selective NSAIDs in patients with risk of cardiovascular events taking low-dose aspirin. The researchers looked at several previous studies.
A large inception cohort study showed that concomitant use of aspirin reduced risk of cardiovascular events when given with rofecoxib, celecoxib, sulindac, meloxicam, and indometacin, but not when given with ibuprofen. In large trials assessing gastrointestinal safety, there were fewer gastrointestinal events in patients using both COX-2 inhibitors and aspirin than in those using non-selective NSAIDs and aspirin; significantly fewer uncomplicated upper gastrointestinal events took place in the MEDAL trial. Analysis of VIGOR and two capsule endoscopy studies showed significantly less distal gastrointestinal blood loss with COX-2 inhibitors than with non-selective NSAIDs. Endoscopy trials showed that low-dose aspirin does not diminish the gastrointestinal benefits of COX-2 inhibitors over non-selective NSAIDs. In an elderly epidemiological cohort receiving aspirin, both celecoxib and rofecoxib reduced risk of admission for gastrointestinal events. The researchers found that comparing the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks is difficult: the likelihood and severity of cardiovascular events differ between individuals, agents, and exposure. Mortality associated with gastrointestinal events is less frequent than with cardiovascular events, but asymptomatic ulcers can result in severe complications. Finally researchers concluded, with support from data, that COX-2 inhibitors are preferable to non-selective NSAIDs in patients with chronic pain and cardiovascular risk needing low-dose aspirin, but relative risks and benefits should be assessed individually for each patient.(Source: Strand V. Are COX-2 inhibitors preferable to non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in patients with risk of cardiovascular events taking low-dose aspirin? Lancet. 2007; 370(9605): 2138-51. : PubMed : January 2008)