In 2005, the FDA warned that taking NSAID’s (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) like Ibuprofen and Naproxen increased the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. In July 2015, the FDA strengthened that warning on the advice of an expert panel.

While aspirin is an NSAID, it does not pose a risk of heart attack or stroke and is not covered by this new warning.

In an article posted on health.harvard.edu, it was reported that over-the-counter NSAIDs including Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) as well as prescription NSAIDs such as celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam Voltaren) are commonly used to alleviate pain caused primarily by inflammation such as arthritis or athletic injury.

For more than 15 years experts have know that NSAIDs increase the risk of heart attack and stroke and may also elevate blood pressure. New warnings from the FDA indicate that the risk of heart attack and stroke increase even with short-term use and the risk may begin within a few weeks of starting to take an NSAID on a regular basis. The risk increases with a higher dose of NSAIDs that are taken for longer periods of time. The risk is even greater for people that already have heart disease.

Safe Use of NSAIDs
Taking an NSAID for a headache for a short period to alleviate minor pain isn’t likely to cause a heart attack or stroke, it’s higher doses and taking it for longer periods of time that are cause for concern.

Acetaminophen is a potential alternative that is not indicated in this warning; however, Acetaminophen can cause liver damage in doses more than 4,000mg per day or if you drink more than three alcoholic drinks per day.

Again, Aspirin is not indicated in this warning as a cause of heart attack and stroke and is often recommended by medical experts to be used to prevent both.

Be cautious with any pain medication and consult your doctor before using any pain medication on a regular basis. Of course, if you experience any of the signs of heart attack or stroke, seek medical help immediately.