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Heart Health: 5 Things You Should Know About OTC Pain Meds

July 20, 2017

otc-pain-meds-1.jpgWhether you’re battling a late-afternoon headache, dealing with nagging joint pain or recovering from an injury, chances are you’ve reached for an over-the-counter pain medication. There’s a reason these medications are so readily available and don’t require a prescription. They’re non-habit forming and mild enough to be taken with few side effects. However, while taking OTC pain meds occasionally can be perfectly harmless for most people, you should know a few things about how these medications can affect your heart health.

NSAID painkillers can be dangerous

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are common OTC pain medications that you can find in any store. They include drugs like Advil and Motrin (generically known as ibuprofen), Aleve or Celebrex. Though NSAIDs can very effectively reduce pain and inflammation for most people, they can be dangerous if you have a preexisting heart condition because they can raise your blood pressure. If you already suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease, you should avoid NSAIDs entirely.

NSAIDs also can interfere with some medications

Beyond being dangerous for people who suffer from high blood pressure because they can increase blood pressure, NSAIDs also can interfere with some blood pressure drugs and other medications. Before taking any medicine that could potentially conflict with medication you need to stay healthy, check with your doctor to ensure it won’t cause any problems.

NSAIDs can make symptoms of heart failure worse

If you regularly take NSAIDs over a long period of time, your body could start retaining fluids, which can make heart failure symptoms more severe. People with heart failure who take NSAIDs often experience shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and swollen feet and ankles.

The FDA has a warning against NSAIDs

While minimal use of NSAIDs could be completely harmless for people in good health, everyone should be aware of the risks. Read the FDA warning and talk to your doctor so you’re completely educated about the potential dangers.

Aspirin can help prevent heart attack or stroke

While you should check with your doctor before beginning an aspirin regimen, many experts recommend taking one aspirin every day as a way to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, especially if you’ve already experienced a cardiac event before. However, this might not be the best choice for everyone, so make sure you talk to your doctor first.

Though there’s no need to panic about your NSAID use, it is important to know the risks and talk to your doctor to figure out a pain relief solution that works best for you.

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