Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs appears to be associated with an increased risk for atrial fibrillation (AF), even after adjustment for ventricular end-diastolic dimension, known to be increased with NSAID use, a new study confirms.
April 8, 2014 (BMJ Open)
Patients using NSAIDs for 2 to 4 weeks had a 76% higher risk of developing AF compared with those who hadn’t taken these pain medications, researchers found.
The results suggest that the increased risk occurs shortly after starting treatment and may resolve over time, said the authors, led by Bouwe P. Kriijthe, Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The underlying mechanism connecting NSAID use with AF isn’t clear and “deserves further attention,” the authors conclude.
AF, a common arrhythmia in the elderly, is associated with stroke, heart failure, increased mortality, and reduced life expectancy. NSAID use has also been associated with myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure.
Researchers obtained a resting electrocardiogram (ECG) for participants at the baseline and then followed participants with ECG assessments during follow-up visits. They gathered data on NSAID use from collaborating pharmacies and categorized participants into current users (14 or fewer days, 15 to 30 days, and more than 30 days), past users (stopped for 30 or fewer days, 31 to 180 days) and never users.
Over a mean follow-up of 12.9 years, 857 of the 8423 participants developed AF. At the time of diagnosis, 261 had never used NSAIDs, 554 had used NSAIDs in the past, and 42 were currently using NSAIDs.
All the research on NSAIDs indicates they are effective anti-inflammatory drugs for up to 72 hours of use. Beyond that time, they begin to block the body’s anti-inflammatory pathways as well as the inflammation itself. The omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which are essential for health, are chemically blocked by the NSAIDs. As a result, cell membranes can not repair cell damage and cell death increases rapidly.
In the US alone over 16,500 people each year die from taking NSAIDs. Most of them are over the age of 60. Less than one third have any warning signals. Most of the deaths are from GI bleeds, the remainder die from liver failure and heart attacks.
Television advertising misleads the pubic by recommending daily use of these potent drugs. “Just take two per day” for relief of pain is a possible death warrant.
AF is an increasing health issue world wide. Clinically, I find AF often resolves, or at least is a dramatically reduced in frequency, by reducing synthetic vitamin B1 (thiamine) intake and increasing natural forms of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacinamide).
When grains are refined the vitamin B1 content is destroyed. The food is then enriched, by adding artificial B1 and other chemicals back into the processed food. Just look at that loaf of bread. The first ingredient is generally enriched flour. I suspect that like so many other health issues we face, AF is related to processed food in our daily diet.
Increasing the magnesium to calcium ratio can also be effective in reducing AF. Magnesium has a calming effect on the heart and nervous system. However, excess magnesium intake can promote diarrhea, so supplementation must be done gradually.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
If you must take NSAIDs for relieve of pain, do so sparingly. Don’t take them for more than three days in a row. You might just save your life. Try increasing your omega 3 fatty acids in lieu of taking NSAIDs. You might also try turmeric or curcumin as a natural anti-inflammatory herb. If the NSAIDs have stopped working, please stop them and try ginger or boswellia to reduce inflammation.