Ibuprofen, the active ingredient in Advil, is now under scrutiny after a new study shed light on some potential grim side effects. Sorry, but if reaching for that bottle of pills is your go-to pain management move, this may come as a bit of a bummer.
According to the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, using painkillers like ibuprofen regularly can significantly increase your risk of suffering a heart attack.
Data was gathered from over 445,000 patients in Finland, the U.K. and Canada, 61,460 of whom had suffered a heart attack at some point. Researchers determined that subjects using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) regularly, including ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, diclofenac and rofecoxib, had a 24 to 58 per cent increased risk of suffering a heart attack.
The study also suggested that the heightened risk wasn’t gradual; it was almost immediate. In fact, subjects were significantly more likely to suffer a heart attack after taking NSAIDs for as little as a week. Taking high doses early on in the first month correlated with a higher likelihood of having a heart attack, too.
Since NSAIDs can increase blood pressure and mess with your blood cells, it isn’t surprising that pills like ibuprofen can have damaging effects on your body.
There is hope, though.
“Use Tylenol as an alternative that’s safer in terms of the heart-attack risk,” said Dr. Chi-Ming Chow, a cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, in an interview with CTV. He went on to explain that it’s important to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before you take any anti-inflammatory painkillers, especially if you’re already taking other medication.
Although this is bad news for people who rely on Advil or other types of NSAIDs, it also serves as an important reminder that buying something over the counter doesn’t necessarily come without risks.