NSAIDs, but not aspirin, can cause dangerous irregular heart beat

Risk of irregular heart beat, heart attacks, and death increases in people taking NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), diclofenac (Cambia, Voltaren, Cataflam), and celecoxib (Celebrex). The risk with these drugs in people who suffer from hypertension and heart failure is well-known, but two recent large studies provide additional information on this risk. A study in the British Medical Journal that reported on 32,602 patients with atrial fibrillation suggested that patient who developed atrial fibrillation (dangerous irregular heart beat, which is often called A fib) were more likely to have been taking NSAIDs (but not aspirin) when this heart condition occurred. Another study conducted by Danish doctors and published in the journal Circulation looked at 83,677 patients who suffered a heart attack. They discovered that taking an NSAID drug (but again, not aspirin) for as little as one week increased the risk of having a second heart attack and dying by 45%. Taking NSAIDs for three months increased the risk by 55%. It is particularly unfortunate for heart patients who suffer from migraine headaches because they are also not allowed to take migraine drugs, such as sumatriptan (Imitrex), rizatriptan (Maxalt), and other triptans. This leaves them with aspirin (or Migralex – a combination of aspirin with magnesium, developed by Dr. Mauskop) and pain drugs that can make headaches worse (Fioricet, codeine, Vicodin, and other). Another option for these patients is to use preventive treatments, such as magnesium (which is also very beneficial for heart conditions), CoQ10, biofeedback, Botox injections, acupuncture, and as a last resort, preventive medications.

4 comments
  1. sara says: 10/04/20111:14 pm

    Magnesium,CoQ 10, B vitamins- all these don’t seem to relieve me of my migraines. Migralax, Excedrin migraine, advils etc. also don’t work usually. Maxalt doesn’t work if I take it too late into the migraine either. Tried acupuncture, massage therapy,acupressure,relaxation techniques_none help. any suggestions before I go on beta blocker? Thinking of trying feverfew.

  2. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/04/20111:31 pm

    Feverfew (100 mg) and butterbur (150 mg a day) can be effective for some people, while Botox is probably the most effective, albeit very expensive treatment. Botox works for about 70% of people with chronic migraine. Regular aerobic exercise also helps and while relaxation techniques such as biofeedback or meditation may not seem to provide significant relief they are worth continuing along with other treatments.

  3. Christina says: 10/16/20112:56 pm

    Interesting. I recently developed an arrhythmia (PVCs) and also take ibuprofen frequently for migraines. I’ve been taking it for 15 years, sometimes two or three times a month and sometimes as frequently as three times a week.

    My migraines seem to be triggered most easily during the week before and then during my period. Is there a real connection between migraine and hormonal fluctuations (or is it my imagination?) and if so, what is the best way to handle that?

    I currently take COQ10 (ubiquinol), magnesium, a multi-vitamin with 100 mg B6 and 100 mcg B12. I started this regimen two months ago to help with both the arrhythmia and headaches. The arrhythmia is improved but I’m not sure yet about the headaches because they fluctuate so much. Some months I get just a couple of migraines and some I get many more. I’ve been getting a lot of sinus headaches the past couple of years than I used to, also, and these seem harder to control–ibuprofen doesn’t usually help.

    Now with these studies about NSAIDs, I’m concerned about the amount of ibuprofen I’m taking. Botox isn’t really an option for me because of the cost and I’ve tried many of the prophylactic medications in the past, with no real improvement and side effects that were bothersome, so hope to avoid that route.

    If I were to try aspirin instead of the ibuprofen, do I take it as soon as I start feeling the migraine, as I do now with ibuprofen? And any suggestions for the monthly time when migraines seem to be triggered so easily? (More magnesium?)

    Thank you!

  4. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/16/20118:02 pm

    You may want to check with your doctor about increasing the dose of magnesium since it helps with arrhythmias and many people do not absorb magnesium well. This is why we often give intravenous injections of magnesium. More magnesium may also help menstrual migraines. You also should ask your doctor about taking aspirin or Migralex (see Migralex.com or Amazon.com) instead of NSAIDs. These are taken as soon as the migraine starts, with a glass of water. Regualr aerobic exercise (30 – 40 minutes three times a week) is another effective way to prevent migraines of any type.

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