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A medical study in Denmark has found that common pain medications, including many available over the counter, increase healthy people’s risk of death by cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Study authors looked at the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in Denmark, based on records of more than 1 million healthy people over age 10 from 1997 to 2005. About 45 percent of people in the study took NSAIDs at least once over that time period, and those who did usually took the drug in low doses for about two weeks.

They found that…ibuprofen – the main ingredient in Advil and Motrin – was associated with a 29 percent greater risk of fatal or nonfatal stroke.

Diclofenac, marketed under various brand names including Voltaren and Cataflam, was linked to a 91 percent heightened risk of cardiovascular death.

Rofecoxib, which was once sold in the United States as the controversy-mired Vioxx, was associated with a 66 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death in this study. –CNN

Naproxen, sold in the US as Aleve, showed no increased risk of heart problems.

It’s distressing that even OTC drugs like Advil and Motrin—many of which we Americans take all the time without even thinking—are increasing people’s risk of strokes and even death.

If you use any of these pain meds, please do so with an abundance of caution. Always follow the dosage on the label or on your prescription, and consult your doctor if you are concerned about the risks of heart attack or stroke associated with your medication.

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