Ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) you can get over-the-counter, may be a quick and easy way get rid of everyday aches, but new research suggests you may want to ease up; these medications can increase your risk of cardiac arrest. The researchers now suggest Ibuprofen be pulled off shop shelves and sold only in pharmacies due to this risk.

The research was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen, The Independent reported. Overall, use of any type of NSAID, including Ibuprofen, the most common, raised users’ risk of cardiac arrest by 31 percent. Diclofenac, a particular type of NSAID that is available only by prescription, raised users' risk of cardiac arrest by up to 50 percent.

Read: Ibuprofen Risks: Long-Term Pain Reliever Use Linked To Hearing Loss In Older Women

“Allowing these drugs to be purchased without a prescription, and without any advice or restrictions, sends a message to the public that they must be safe,” explained lead researcher Gunnar Gislason, The Independent reported. “NSAIDs should be used with caution and for a valid indication.”

For the study, now published online in the European Heart Journal, the team looked at records for every patient who had been admitted to the hospital for cardiac arrest between 2001 and 2010, noting use of NSAIDs for the month leading up to the health event. Of the 28,947 patients who were admitted to the hospital for heart problems, 3,376 had been treated with NSAID a month before their cardiac arrest.

NSAIDs work by reducing the production of prostaglandins, a natural chemical produced by the body that promotes inflammation, pain, and fever, RX List reported. In addition to helping to relieve pain and reduce fever, the drug also interferes with blood formation and causes arteries to constrict which increases fluid retention and raises blood pressure, The Independent reported.

Cardiac arrest is when the heart abruptly stops working as a result of a malfunction of its electrical system, the American Heart Association reported. A heart attack, on the other hand, occurs when the arteries to the heart become blocked, restricting blood flow.

The team hope their findings can help prevent the public from unknowingly increasing their risk for cardiac arrest. Gislason recommended that patients with cardiovascular disease use particular caution with NSAIDs, or avoid them all together. Patients without heart problems should avoid taking more than 1,200 mg of ibuprofen in a day.

Source: Gislason G, et al. European Heart Journal. 2017

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