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Complications from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAID, have been linked to 103,000 hospitalizations and more than 16,000 deaths per year in the US, according to a study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics.

A lack of information, experts say, is the root cause of the lack of concern over the health risks associated with NSAIDs. A report in the January 16, 2005, Science Daily said: "More people die each year from NSAIDs-related complications than from AIDS and cervical cancer in the United States."

Experts say the risk of their many adverse effects increase and vary depending on the patient's age, dosage, and duration of use. NSAIDs include:

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin).
Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
Indomethacin (Indocin).
Ketoprofen (Orudis).
Piroxicam (Feldene).

A January 2003, Over-the-Counter Pain Medication Study, by the National Consumer League, determined that NSAIDs make up the largest share of the OTC pain medication market. About 110 million Americans who take OTC pain medications take NSAIDs most often. In fact, the study found, Americans are twice as likely to take NSAIDs than they are to take acetaminophen-based products including Tylenol.

There are also many OTC products that contain ibuprofen such as: Advil Cold And Sinus, Advil Cold, Advil Allergy Sinus, Children's Advil Allergy Sinus, Ibuprohm Cold and Sinus, Sine-Aid IB, Children's Motrin Cold.

Products that contain naproxen include Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox, Anaprox DS, EC-Naproxyn, Naprelan, and Naprapac (copackaged with lansoprazole)

A new study, published in the June 27, 2006, journal, Circulation, is the fifth study in a little over a year to claim that NSAIDs cause heart problems. The researchers in Circulation say NSAIDs can greatly and quickly increase the risk of death in persons who have already had one heart attack.
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Dr Gunnar Gislason, from the Gentofte University Hospital in Hellerup Denmark, and colleagues gathered the medical records from the Danish National Patient Registry on 58,432 patients 30 and older who had survived a heart attack between 1994 and 2002.

They then examined the Danish Registry of Medicinal Product Statistics for information regarding prescriptions of NSAIDs, their dosages, and how long they were prescribed.

With high daily doses of NSAIDs, the study found the likelihood of dying was doubled or quadrupled depending on the specific drug, and the risk of another heart attack went up 22% to 89%.

"In addition," Dr Gislason told Heartwire on June 21, 2006, "the average time of treatment in our study was just one month, so it appears that even short courses of these drugs are dangerous in patients with known heart disease."

"This is not just a problem associated with chronic treatment," he said.
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The study found any use of ibuprofen upped the risk of death by 1.5-fold, and high doses (over 1,200 milligrams a day) increased the risk by 2.2-fold. Diclofenac increased the death risk by 2.4-fold, and at high doses the increase was 4.4-fold.

Experts advise that these risks are not small for heart attack survivors. They amount to one patient harmed for every 24 patients who took diclofenac, and one in every 45 patients who took ibuprofen.

A year ago in June 2005, a British study of more than 9000 people who had suffered a previous heart attack found NSAIDs increased the risk of another heart attack by between 24% to 55%.

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

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