Patients who discontinue long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen run a higher risk of heart attack for a few weeks immediately afterward, a study said on Monday.
“Our results suggest that abrupt discontinuation of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) therapy may have to be avoided and that physicians should carefully review the disease status and the current medication profile before terminating a therapy” with such drugs, said the study from Switzerland’s University Hospital Basel. The study was based on a review of a British health database and covered in part 8,688 patients who had suffered their first heart attack between 1995 and 2001. Even after taking into account such things as high blood pressure, cigarette smoking and diabetes, the heart attack risk was 50 percent higher in the 29-day period after patients stopped taking the drugs, compared to patients who were not on such therapy, the study said. The report, published in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, involved non-aspirin NSAIDS that are frequently prescribed to treat pain and inflammation. The study did not speculate on what causes the apparent short-term higher risk, but said systemic inflammation has been shown to be associated in other studies with an increased heart attack risk. But it also noted that other studies have shown no significant protective heart attack effect for people taking such drugs. The new report found that the risk for a heart attack in the month after the drugs were stopped was highest in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. (Source: Archives of Internal Medicine: Reuters Health: December 2004.)