What do you do when you get a needle pricking headache? If you’re that guy who reaches out to the bottle of paracetamol or ibuprofen for relief, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans take NSAID tablets every day for almost all reasons under the sky.
Those most useful but increasingly hazardous drugs include ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, and paracetamol- are the most bought, over-the-counter medications worldwide. They provide relief from symptoms ranging from flu symptoms, menorrhagia, muscle cramps to back pain, and arthritis.
Though the use of these painkillers is widespread and rigorously useful, their inappropriate use has piled up the adverse effects of these drugs. With the increasing usage of the drug comes the side effects tagged with it. When the intake exceeds the therapeutic dosage of these medications, they turn out toxic to the organ systems.
A 2005 study showed that about 26 percent of respondents used more than the accepted dosage range, and about 60 percent were unaware of the potential dangers of the side effects.
July 2015 saw a sturdy take on the NSAIDs by the FDA because of the inappropriate use of these drug classes. They published a warning stating the increased risk of heart attack and stroke outside the therapeutic range.
Why does the FDA require more robust warning labels?
After looking into the studies carried out on placebo-controlled trials, the FDA has concluded that the NSAIDs pose much danger than thought to be. The risk is increased as the dose is incremented. The odds apply equally to those with or without cardiovascular comorbidities. It even states that the risk can increase even in a few weeks.
How do NSAIDs increase risk?
Bill MacCarberg, MD, a San Diego family physician, suggests, “It has to do with how the medicines interact with the platelets.”
The President of the American Heart Association, Dr. Mark Creager, comments that the mechanism of action of the non-aspirin is slightly different from Aspirin. Aspirin is quite cardio-protective, preventing the platelets from forming clots, thus preventing heart attacks and stroke. The contrary holds true for the non-aspirin NSAIDs. These non-aspirin NSAIDs work on another enzyme that promotes clotting. This leads to increased cardiovascular risk and stroke events.
Does this mean we don’t use these drugs?
No, the AHA President suggests that it is not the use that creates havoc, but the overuse of these drugs. He expands by saying that we need to be clear on who uses it and for what. Any medication in moderation and its own therapeutic dosage is always safe, but not beyond. The FDA recommends the users to read the labels before consuming them. Being prudent in drug selection and dosage remains the key to reducing these adverse events.