If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give reaching for over-the-counter pain relievers a second thought when you have a headache. However, new recommendations for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest casually taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and Naproxen—more commonly sold under the brand names Advil and Aleve—could have serious risks.
The new warning label requirements must state NSAIDs may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke in as early as the first few weeks of use. With this new requirement in mind, here are five things you need to know about taking Ibuprofen or Naproxen:
1. Your risk may increase over time
While there is no period of use without risk, using NSAIDs for a longer period of time can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
2. People who have cardiovascular disease are at an increased risk
If you have a history of cardiovascular disease—especially a recent history—talk with your doctor before taking any NSAID.
3. Never take more than the recommended dose
Make sure you read the label to determine the recommended dose for your age or weight and don’t take more until the recommended time period between doses has passed.
4. Check other labels
Many other prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines contain NSAIDs, so make sure you double check your medication to avoid doubling up on doses. For instance, cold and flu medication often contains ibuprofen, so reading the label can help keep you from taking a pain reliever unnecessarily.
5. Only use when necessary
If you decide to take NSAIDs, do your best to not only take them in the lowest dose possible, but also over the shortest period of time possible to avoid prolonged use.
Though the new label requirements are already in effect, more research is still needed to determine who is at the most risk and what dosage level leads to increased risk. In the meantime, it’s important to stay informed and address any concerns you may have with your doctor.
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