EUGENE, Ore. — The American Heart Association has joined a group of patient and provider organizations promoting safe use of a commonly used class of painkillers.
The AHA announced that it had joined the Alliance for the Rational Use of NSAIDs, which refers to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a class that includes the common drug ibuprofen. Other members include the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
According to the alliance, about 23 million people in the United States use NSAIDs on a daily basis, and 98 million prescriptions for them have been filled this year, but studies have indicated that overuse of the drugs can cause severe problems in the digestive system, kidneys and heart. A recent study published in the journal Circulation found that heart attack survivors who used NSAIDs were 59% more likely to die from any cause within one year of their heart attack, and 63% more likely within five years. In addition, survivors faced a 30% increased risk of having another heart attack or dying from coronary artery disease after a year and a 41% increased risk after five years.
"The alliance's mission to support the education of healthcare professionals and patients about appropriate use of these drugs is critical for us, particularly in light of the new Circulation study," AHA board member and Harvard Medical School professor Elliott Antman said.