Rethink Your Painkiller: The Hidden Danger for Heart Attack Survivors Revealed

If you’ve ever experienced a heart attack, you’re likely aware of how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid future occurrences. However, did you know that the painkillers you might be taking to alleviate minor discomforts could be putting your heart health at risk?

Research has shown that heart attack survivors who turn to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve their pain are more likely to die one year after the event. This includes popular over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and naproxen and prescription drug Celebrex. The message is clear: if you’ve had a heart attack, you should avoid these drugs.

Dr. Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen, lead author of the study, stresses the importance of both clinicians and patients being aware of the risks associated with NSAIDs, especially in the aftermath of a heart attack. She explains that the fact that these drugs are available without a prescription may give the general public a false sense of safety – something that could be detrimental for those with cardiovascular disease.

What are NSAIDs?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used medications meant to reduce inflammation, pain, and fever. They work by blocking the production of prostaglandin – a substance that contributes to inflammation and pain – in the body. In addition to ibuprofen, naproxen, and Celebrex, other NSAIDs include aspirin, diclofenac, and meloxicam.

These drugs are not without their side effects, the most common of which is stomach discomfort, including ulcers and bleeding. Long-term use of NSAIDs has also been associated with an increased risk of kidney and liver problems. And now, research points to increased risks for heart attack survivors.

The Dangers of Taking NSAIDs After a Heart Attack

During the study, researchers followed more than 100,000 heart attack survivors for an average of five years and tracked their use of NSAIDs. They found that those who took NSAIDs had a higher risk of death or a second heart attack when compared to those who did not take the drugs.

Dr. Olsen explains that the results of the study should be taken seriously by healthcare providers and patients alike. She believes that NSAIDs “are harmful even several years after a heart attack.”

Alternatives to NSAIDs

For heart attack survivors concerned about pain management, there are alternatives to NSAIDs that should be considered:

  1. Acetaminophen: This common pain reliever is not an NSAID and can be used to address mild to moderate pain. It’s important to note that high doses or long-term use of acetaminophen can lead to liver damage.

  2. Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help you manage pain and work on strength and balance, which can help prevent future heart events.

  3. Heat and cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help alleviate pain and inflammation. Heat therapy is especially useful for muscles, while cold therapy is better for joint pain.

  4. Topical pain relievers: Creams and gels containing ingredients such as capsaicin, menthol, or lidocaine can be applied directly to the skin to numb the affected area.

  5. Lifestyle changes: Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, can help reduce overall inflammation and pain.

  6. Stress management: Chronic stress can exacerbate pain and heart issues, so it’s essential to find ways to manage stress, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or counseling.

Before making any changes to your pain management routine, always consult your healthcare provider. They can help you find the best option that is both safe and effective for your specific needs.


In conclusion, heart attack survivors should be aware of the potential dangers associated with NSAID use and consider alternative pain management strategies to avoid further complications. Healthcare providers must also play an active role in educating patients about these risks and guiding them towards safer options for pain relief.

Remember, your heart health should always be a top priority. Don’t let painkillers derail your progress or put your life in danger. Take charge of your health by avoiding NSAIDs post-heart attack and exploring safer alternatives to ease your pain and support your overall well-being.