This Common Everyday Painkiller Raises Your Risk of a Heart Attack

New research sheds light on the long-term risks of NSAIDs.

For some of us, daily life brings aches and pains. A stiff leg. Some run-of-the-mill lower back pain. Or maybe you knocked back too many martinis the night before. Whatever the case, chances are you reach for your trusty white bottle of ibuprofen, pop a couple, and 20 to 30 excruciating minutes later, you're feeling a little bit better.

Well, as it turns out, ibuprofen—and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—might not be the magical cure-alls we've grown accustomed to.

In fact, they may be dangerous.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Montreal's Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier found that individuals who take NSAIDs on a daily basis are 20 to 50 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack down the road than those who don't. If you're on the higher end on that risk spectrum, you're ingesting only about 1,200mg of ibuprofen—or about roughly six tablets of basic Advil or Motrin—every day. It's even riskier to take Aleve: just 750mg of Naproxen, the active ingredient in Aleve, will push you closer to the 50 percent end.

The study, published in the British journal The BMJ, relied on data from multiple Canadian and European healthcare databases containing health records for nearly 447,000 patients. The research team also found that celecoxib, a relatively recently developed NSAID—and the main ingredient in Celebrex—contrary to colloquial belief, poses no more risk than ibuprofen or naproxen. In short: all NSAIDs pose an equal risk.

So, now that we know what those little pills are capable of, is there any benefit to keeping them in your cabinet?

Well, when taken responsibly (i.e. not every day), ibuprofen is not only fine for you but it's also great for reducing inflammation, whether that's in the muscles, nasal cavities, or your urethra. However, if all you're looking for is a run-of-the-mill pain reliever for headaches, hangovers, and fighting a fever, take it from us: it's better to reach for a bottle of acetaminophen. You'll recognize that as Tylenol.

Also, be sure to follow our diet for building a heart of steel.

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Ari Notis
Ari is an editor specializing in news and lifestyle. Read more
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