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Drug interactions can be deadly. Thorough doctors have to be careful to make sure the different medicines they prescribe don’t cause adverse reactions when taken together, but when the patient has a common pain ailment, they don’t always communicate to the doctor that they’re using over-the-counter (OTC) products as well.
After all, if you can get a medicine without a prescription, it’s got to be perfectly safe, right?
Not always. Just like prescriptions, OTCs can cause adverse drug interactions. In some cases this can be troublesome. In others, it can be a recipe for disaster. Now a group of medicines commonly-used to treat arthritis pain — available both by prescription and over-the-counter — is proving to be especially dangerous to heart patients.
“It’s been well-known for a number of years that newer types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), what are known as COX-2 inhibitors, increase the risk of heart attacks. For this reason, a number of these newer types of NSAIDs have been taken off the market again. We can now see that some of the older NSAID types, particularly Diclofenac, are also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and apparently to the same extent as several of the types that were taken off the market,” says Morten Schmidt, MD and PhD from Aarhus University, who is in charge of the research project investigating the prevalence of heart patients using NSAIDs for arthritis pain.
“This is worrying, because these older types of medicine are frequently used throughout the western world and in many countries available without prescription,” he adds.
NSAIDs are commonly used to treat conditions involving swelling, pain and limitations in movement associated with inflammation — like arthritis. Depending on the strength they may be doled out via a prescription or more commonly purchased at a drug store. Common brands of OTC NSAIDs include Advil and Motrin.
Widespread problem of NSAIDs
Dr. Schmidt and his research team have found that sixty percent of the adult population in Denmark was prescribed NSAIDs in a 10 year period — even up to forty percent heart patients.
The problem in the U.S. may even be worse. According to data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, about eighty-nine percent of patients were prescribed NSAIDs from 2000 to 2007.
With these findings, the Danish team put together guidelines to help doctors recognize the danger to cut down on the potentially dangerous prescriptions, and to help educate patients about avoiding OTC NSAIDs.
Easy natural health options for relieving arthritis pain that don’t carry increased risk of heart attack, increased blood pressure or ulcers, include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Derived from herring, trout and salmon; borage oil (1.4 grams daily); cod liver oil (2 Tbsp. daily); or krill oil (1gram daily). Krill supplements tend to be higher quality and provide peak benefits.
- Turmeric (curcumin): Protects joints and enhances liver health by inhibiting COX-2 and 5-lipoxegenase inflammation pathways. Click here for a recipe for Golden Milk, using turmeric.
These help with healing inflammation:
- CoEnzyme Q10: 100 mg to 200 mg daily
- Ginger: 500 mg to 1,000 mg daily increases the blood flow to the joints and improves lubrication.