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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been linked to increased risk of blood clots, a recent medical study suggests. The study, published in the Oxford Journals, was a review of six previously published studies on the effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use with respect to the onset of venous thromboembolism (VTE). This new study presented a direct correlation between NSAID users and the associated risks of blood clots in the study participants.
Study authors Patompong Ungprasert, Narat Srivali1, Karn Wijarnpreecha, Prangthip Charoenpong and Eric L. Knight reviewed the results from more than 20,000 study participants. The study analyzed data from six different studies in an attempt to correlate the aggregate indicators linking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug usage to deep vein thrombus and risk of pulmonary embolism.
While the study did establish a link between users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and blood clots, it could not create a chain of circumstances linking one to the other specifically. The six studies compared non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs users and non-users alike. The study did find that in 80 percent of the cases, increased risk of blood clots were found in non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug users.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a disease encompassing both deep vein thrombus (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Signs and symptoms of DVT include swelling, with associated pain and tenderness to the touch. Signs and symptoms of PE include difficulty breathing with an abnormally rapid rate of respiration (rapid breathing), as well as sharp chest pain when coughing. Treatment options include anticoagulation therapy with heparin.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be found in any number of prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications as well. Aspirin, ibuprofen and naprosyn are just a few examples of over-the-counter medications containing NSAID’s, and according to the study, all are linked to elevated risk of blood clots. Tylenol is not a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Study author Patompong Ungprasert indicated that while the mechanism by which the apparent risk of developing blood clots from the use of any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug was “unclear,” the study showed a “significant increased VTE risk among NSAID users.”
The main limitation of this study is that it is not a study with participants as such, but instead a review of previous, standalone studies on the same subject matter. Because of this, it does not present a direct correlation showing exactly why use of NSAID’s increases risk factors for blood clots, nor does it show if one particular drug is worse for you, or has a greater increased risk than the others.
That brings to light the case of Rofecxib, a prescription pain reliever and NSAID, which was removed from the marketplace back in 2004. Rofecoxib was marketed under the brand name Vioxx, by Merck and Co. Pharmacueticals. Vioxx was widely prescribed by doctors for pain management, mostly for symptoms of arthritis. It was quickly removed from the market after it came to light the parent company, Merck, had hidden specific information about the risks of heart attack and strokes associated with high dosages and long-term use and abuse of Vioxx. Merck and Co. pulled the drug from the market on Sept. 30, 2004, over concerns that the companies withholding of the information from clinical trials had led to an estimated 180,000 deaths from the drug. A class action lawsuit has since been settled, in the billions of dollars.
Any person currently taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is encouraged to consult with their doctor to see if they need to be concerned with any kind of links to increased risk of blood clots or pulmonary embolisms. The significance for increased vigilance for the general population has been demonstrated.
By Jim Donahue