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OTC Painkiller Causes Heart Problems Too

Perhaps, there was a good reason why Merck researchers chose to compare their newest pain reliever Arcoxia against Voltaren and not naproxen (Aleve) after all, according to a new report citing the heart risks associated with taking the over-the-counter (OTC) drug.

One very interesting aspect about this study: Researchers were comparing the value of Celebrex to naproxen or a placebo to slow down Alzheimer's disease in some 2,500 elderly patients, but stopped it after more than three years due to reports of heightened cardiovascular problems.

During the abbreviated study, virtually the same number of patients experienced serious heart-related problems after taking Celebrex or a placebo (5.5 percent), while naproxen users had a much higher risk of a serious cardiovascular event or death (8.25 percent).

Of course, there were some who dismissed these results as completely unreliable because the study was stopped abruptly. Nonetheless, they certainly match the results of a study I posted last year about the safety of taking any OTC painkiller.

Just to remind you, where a drug sits before it's bought -- in front of or behind the counter -- doesn't mean it's any safer, as in the case of aspirin. Your best and safest options for relieving your pain without harming your heart: Finding a safer anti-inflammatory alternative with the help of a knowledgeable health care professional trained in natural medicine.

MSNBC November 16, 2006

PLoS Clinical Trials, Vol. 1, No. 7, November 17, 2006 Free Full Text Study