Certain NSAIDs May Increase Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke in Women

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may increase the risk of mortality, heart attack, and stroke, in postmenopausal women, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University of Florida suggest that consistent use of the NSAID naproxen—the active ingredient in Aleve—is correlated with a 10% increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events in postmenopausal women.

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The study included data from 160,000 postmenopausal women who were surveyed through the Women’s Health Initiative (a 15-year study), and showed that 53,142 women regularly used NSAIDs.

Even after adjusting for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and aspirin use, the use of NSAIDs, especially Cox-2 inhibitors and nonselective agents with Cox-2>Cox-1 inhibition, was still associated with heightened risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

NSAIDs with Cox-1>Cox-2 inhibition (ibuprofen) were not associated with elevated risk of heart attack or stroke, leading researchers to believe that Cox-2 inhibition plays an important role in the risk of adverse cardiovascular events.

Researchers encouraged patients to use NSAID’s only in the short-term and to further consult with their doctors to monitor for any risk of heart disease. 

The complete study is published in the July issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

-Michelle Canales


Bavry AA, Fridtjof T, Allison M, et al. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cardiovascular outcomes in women. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2014 July [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1161/ CIRCOUTCOMES.113.000800.

University of Florida. UF research finds association between certain pain relievers and heart attack [press release]. July 9, 2014. July14, 2014.