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Give the pills a miss

health-and-fitness Updated: Jan 14, 2011 00:58 IST

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If you are in a habit of popping pain killers even for a mild headache, then a new research may spell some bad news for you. Regular doses of ibuprofen and similar pain killers could treble the risk of stroke and up the likelihood of heart attacks, scientists warn.

Researchers have found that high doses of ibuprofen may carry health risks similar to pain killers withdrawn from the market several years ago on safety grounds.

High dose, high risk


According to the study, millions of people all across the globe prescribe to so-called anti-inflammatory drugs every year, usually to combat arthritis or back pain and other smaller problems. Doctors stress that stroke and heart risks only exist for those taking high doses of ibuprofen over long periods and that there is no danger in the odd pill for a headache, according to the study.

Researchers from the University of Bern in Switzerland, looked at more than 31 clinical trials involving 116,429 patients. They had each taken one of seven commonly-used pain killers. The study found that those who had taken ibuprofen over a long period of time were almost three times as likely to suffer a stroke.

Professor Peter Jüni of the University of Bern said: “We looked at patients taking these drugs three to four times a day. In terms of stroke, ibuprofen doesn’t look very good. If I was in chronic pain, I would not take it as the risks are just too high.”

It was seen that the pain killer also raises significantly the risk of heart attacks and deaths caused by heart disease.