This Everyday Pain Med Is Linked to a Higher Risk of Heart Problems

Chances are you know someone who’s affected by heart disease — or maybe you are yourself. The CDC reminds us over 600,000 people die from heart disease in the U.S. every year. Of course, our sedentary lifestyles don’t help, but there’s something else you may not be aware of that’s severely affecting your ticker. Yep — we’re talking about those pain pills in your medicine cabinet.

This everyday med may seem innocent, but it’s actually increasing your risk for heart problems in a big way.

Your Advil is the issue

Pink pills on a white background.

Your pain relievers could cause you serious health issues. | BravissimoS/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re the type to pop a couple Advil every time you have a minor ache or pain, you might want to make sure your heart is healthy enough to handle it. Harvard Health Publishing says NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. This means your Motrin, Advil, or store-brand ibuprofen meds could be an issue if you’re taking them consistently.

Next: Ibuprofen isn’t the only offender. These other types of NSAIDs can also affect your heart.

Aleve is a problem, too — sorry

Pile of prescription pills spilling from open pill bottle.

Another pain reliever brand linked to controversy. | Andromachi/iStock/Getty Images

Here’s another popular NSAID that can give you heart trouble. The Arthritis Foundation explains naproxen drugs, such as Aleve, could possibly affect your heart if you’re using them consistently to treat certain conditions that cause chronic pain. But naproxen drugs are also probably the safest of the NSAIDs, too — think of them as the lesser of the evils.

There’s another issue with naproxen, though. It has been linked to gastrointestinal issues. So if you’re prone to ulcers, then you’ll want to step away from the Aleve and find a better alternative.

Next: Aspirin may not be the obvious choice.

Aspirin is causing controversy

A woman drinking a glass of water with her pills.

Your aspirin could lead to headaches down the line. | CentralITAlliance/iStock/Getty Images

While you may be dumping your Aleve and Advil down the garbage disposal, here’s an NSAID that actually has the ability to help your heart. The Mayo Clinic explains your doctor may recommend you start aspirin therapy if you’ve previously had a heart attack or stroke. It helps by interfering with your blood’s ability to clot, which can help prevent a blood clot from happening near a major artery.

Aspirin has caused a bit of controversy, however, after a study showed some people with a heart condition may actually be at a higher risk of heart attack, says the Daily Mail. So, always ask your doctor what they think is best for your health.

Next: This is what started all the chaos.

This is the NSAID that started the chaos

White pills laid out on a blue wooden table.

This has been an issue for a long time. |

Over 10 years ago, NBC News reported the recall of controversial NSAID, Vioxx. This top-selling arthritis drug may have contributed to nearly 30,000 heart attacks and cardiac deaths. And an internal study showed those taking the med had a higher likelihood of suffering from heart problems than those who took a placebo.

Around this time, scientists and drug regulators were starting to call NSAIDs into question. Since then, there has been plenty of evidence to suggest that some people may be negatively affected by this class of meds.

Next: The damage that you could be doing to your body.

Here’s what damage NSAIDs can do

Sad woman looking out window.

Older people might notice symptoms from years of taking aspirin. | Giocalde/iStock/Getty Images

Not only can NSAIDs affect your heart, but they can also have other potentially life-threatening side effects, WebMD says. They can cause stomach ulcers, liver or kidney problems, or even high blood pressure in some cases. You’re more likely to develop a stomach ulcer if you’re over the age of 60, smoke, and have other medical issues, so keep this in mind.

To lessen side effects, even if they’re minor, take the smallest dose possible, and ask your doctor if you can use acetaminophen for pain relief in some cases. Taking your NSAIDs with food can also help.

Next: A surprising number of people are hospitalized and killed each year.

How many people die from NSAIDs a year?

A person browses through the medicine aisles at drug store.

You might want to avoid the medication aisle. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

If you’re using NSAID meds daily, you’re in good company. Sixty million Americans use them, according to Dr. Mercola, with Voltaren, ibuprofen, Celebrex, aspirin, and naproxen being the most common. Unfortunately, this also means around 100,000 people are hospitalized for this usage, and 15,000 of them die. And the elderly are particularly at risk.

Next: You might want to consider these safer alternatives.

Safer alternatives to consider

A man sleeps with a glass of water and pills on his desk side table.

You don’t need to reach for a bottle of aspirin every time. |

If you’re taking NSAIDs currently, don’t panic. Harvard Health Publishing says there’s not enough research to confirm this, but it’s believed that naproxen is the safest of the NSAIDs and should be considered if you’re concerned about your heart. Additionally, acetaminophen is a good alternative if you don’t need the anti-inflammatory effects, and you can also ask your doctor about pain meds related to aspirin that carry less of a risk. And of course, regular exercise, weight loss, and physical therapy may also help you naturally reduce your pain and inflammation.