This Everyday Pain Med Has Been Linked to a Higher Risk of Stroke

Millions of people use a drug called ibuprofen in the form of medications like Advil and Motrin. This everyday pain medication may seem harmless, but it only takes a few weeks of use before it poses dangerous health risks, including a higher risk of stroke.

Read on to see how these side effects could cause serious health problems or even death.

Its link to stroke and heart attack

Human Heart Anatomy Illustration. 3D render

Overuse of ibuprofen has long been known to cause heart attack or stroke. |

The FDA first warned of this possible side effect of ibuprofen back in 2005 and gave an even stronger warning 10 years later in 2015, thanks to new-found evidence. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, can elevate blood pressure and lead to an increased risk of heart failure. Even short-term use of just a few weeks is enough to warrant an increased risk. Those who already have heart disease are at the highest risk. It’s important to take the lowest effective dose and for the shortest possible time period in order to lower any potential chance of heart failure.

Ibuprofen has also been linked to these scary, and some times deadly, issues.

Birth defects

Pregnant woman laying down

You should avoid ibuprofen if you are pregnant. |

Although taking one dose of ibuprofen while pregnant likely won’t cause any problems, it’s not recommended; especially not during the third trimester. Research shows that ibuprofen can cause a passage in the baby’s heart to close too soon before birth. This can lead to heart damage, lung damage, and potentially death. In addition to heart and lung problems, low levels of amniotic fluid and high blood pressure have been found in babies whose mothers take ibuprofen a few weeks before birth.

Stomach bleeding

Woman having a stomach ache

Stomach bleeding can lead to death if left untreated. |

Ibuprofen has the potential to cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach. Bleeding can develop any time while taking NSAIDs, and if left untreated, can lead to death. Since NSAIDs are metabolized in the stomach rather than the liver, it makes stomach bleeding more common than an acetaminophen like Tylenol.

Intestinal bleeding

Woman holding her stomach in pain

Intestinal bleeding can be caused from drinking too much alcohol. | Andrey Popov/iStock/Getty Images

Similar to stomach bleeding, intestinal bleeding is also a possibility with NSAIDs. These risks are amplified if you take ibuprofen for a long period of time, are older or in poor health, or drink three or more alcoholic beverages per day while taking the drug. Warning signs of internal bleeding include stomach pain, heartburn, or bloody vomit or stool.

Nausea or vomiting

Man in a tank top

Eat before taking ibuprofen to avoid becoming nauseous. |

While vomiting can be a sign of internal bleeding, it can also be a separate side effect of NSAIDs. Plus, too much ibuprofen can create increased acid in the stomach, which can cause heartburn. One way to reduce the risk of nausea, vomiting, or heartburn is to eat prior to taking the medication. According to, sweating or skin rash can also occur along with these symptoms.

Dizziness or headache

Man with headache

Headaches are a common side effect of NSAIDS. |

Dizziness or headache are both less serious side effects of NSAIDs, but they are more common and can greatly interfere with daily life. If dizziness is an issue, it’s important not to perform certain activities, such as driving, because of disorientation. Dizziness can be serious if it is linked to high blood pressure as a result of ibuprofen. If you think this may be the case, it’s important to call your doctor right away.

Nervousness or anxiety

Nervous breakdown concept

It’s uncommon to become nervous or anxious while taking ibuprofen. |

People have reported feeling nervous or anxious when taking ibuprofen, so, although uncommon, it has been listed as a potential side effect of the medication. Nervousness can appear in the form of a fast heartbeat, sweating, muscle tension, dizziness, and more. It’s imperative to talk to a doctor if feelings of anxiety occur.