Some arthritis pain relievers could increase the risk of dying of stroke, according to new research.
Cox-2 inhibitors are a commonly-prescribed class of drugs for patients suffering from pain and soreness brought about by arthritis. These chemicals are a form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (Nsaid). Examples of these medications include rofecoxib, celecoxib, nabumeton, meloxicam, etodolac, and diclofenac.
Aarhus University Hospital researchers in Denmark studied medical records of 100, 243 Danes who were hospitalized with initial strokes between 2004 and 2012. Use of Nsaids by the subjects was examined, including information about the length of usage, as well as the type of Nsaid consumed.
Patients consuming the popular class of painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug for the first time were found to have a 42 percent higher risk of death after a stroke than subjects who did not consume Nsaids. For patients with a record of using the arthritis medicines, that risk was reduced to 19 percent, still a significant increase in risk over not taking the prescription drug. Etodolac, sold under the brand name Lodine, was found to present the greatest risk, raising mortality rates by 53 percent.
Dangers appear to be greatest for those patients who have recently started taking the drugs to treat arthritis pain. The study was able to find no link between chronic use of any of the prescription medicines examined and mortality risk from stroke.
These inhibitors work by blocking the action of Cox-2, an enzyme responsible for pain and inflammation. Earlier studies showed links between these drugs and strokes, as well as heart attacks. One popular prescription medicine, Vioxx, was taken off the market in 2004 over these health concerns.
“Arthritis is not just a disease of old age. Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children. Of the 50 million Americans with arthritis, more than 36 million are Caucasians, more than 4.6 million are African-Americans and 2.9 million are Hispanic,” the Arthritis Foundation reported.
Researchers believe their study will highlight the need for physicians to consider alternative treatments for patients suffering from the pain of arthritis.