Can Taking Motrin Stop Your Heart?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

motrin cardiac arrestI’ve been blogging on the risks of NSAIDs for years. It’s amazing that every patient I tell about the cardiac risks of these drugs seems to be completely surprised, like telling someone a spaceship just parked itself above the city. Now a new study shows a new but related risk. Motrin and similar drugs significantly increase the risk of your heart stopping!

Is Cardiac Arrest the Same as a Heart Attack?

Cardiac arrest and a heart attack are two different things. In a heart attack, something, like a clot or a piece of ruptured plaque that breaks loose from an artery, blocks the blood supply to a section of the heart. While permanent damage can be done to that area, the person usually remains conscious because the heart is still pumping blood throughout the body. In cardiac arrest, the heart literally just stops beating completely, so no blood is being pumped through the body or to the brain. Unless the heart can be restarted with a defibrillator, the person dies a very quick death.

NSAID Warnings Are Not New

Before this specific Motrin cardiac arrest risk finding, several warnings have been put out regarding the use of NSAIDS and cardiac risk, heart attack risk, and stroke risk over time. We’ve been very vocal about their use because patients who deal with pain are the populations most likely to use NSAIDS because of their anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. We make it clear to patients receiving treatment not to use them as in addition to the above risks, studies have found that NSAIDs, like Celebrex, contribute to the production of bad joint chemicals and limit the production of good ones.

Motrin Cardiac Arrest Risk Study

The new study was performed in Denmark and included almost 29,000 subjects who had a cardiac arrest, not in a hospital, between 2001 to 2010. In order to identify what factors had posed additional risk, data from these patients was compared to a larger control group with similar demographics and known cardiac risk factors. The results were that two of the NSAIDS tested raised cardiac risk: Ibubrofen, the most commonly used NSAID in the US raised cardiac risk by 31%, and Voltaren, used more commonly in Europe, raised cardiac risk by 50%. Perhaps more concerning was the fact that long-term use wasn’t necessary for cardiac arrest to occur. Use for as short as a week had caused the problem in some patients.

If NSAIDs Increase Cardiac Arrest Risk, What Can I Take for My Joint Pain?

Joint pain is a complex problem, and unfortunately many of the medications to treat the issue bring unacceptable risks. In addition to cardiac risk, Aleve causes the production of defective cartilage and NSAIDs in general are associated with injury to the GI tract. Thankfully, there are several safe alternatives to help with pain and inflammation. Curcumin with BioPerine has been shown in many studies to be very effective for pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin are as good as Celebrex for inflammation, and good-quality fish oil can turn bad inflammation into healing. If safe supplements are not enough, regenerative-medicine treatments that use your own stem cells and platelets to help joints rather than replace them are available.

The upshot? I just watched an Advil commercial on TV, showing lots of very active young and middle-aged people climbing mountains and running. Somehow I didn’t see a single warning about heart attack risk or anything else? This stuff is not safe, boys and girls! So walk past the NSAID aisle; avoid Motrin, Advil, Aleve; and consider taking safe supplements for joint pain and inflammation. Or, alternatively, keep popping this stuff to be able to get that last ski run in or to hit it at the gym, but just make sure your life insurance is paid up and your affairs are in order!

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6 thoughts on “Can Taking Motrin Stop Your Heart?

  1. Barb cullen

    I had stem cell therapy on both hips 8 months ago.I am a dance instructor and choreographer.The first 6 weeks after stem cell I was hopeful about my pain but once,I started teaching again, I’m probably in more pain than before stem cell. I have read marajuana is very helpful in controlling pain from arthritis and some say it is actually causing their arthritis to disappear due to it’s anti inflamatory qualities . What are your thoughts on this and why is the FDA not using the marajuana plant for medicine?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Barb,
      Have you been in touch with your Doctor about your Hips? The issue with cannaboids like marijuana, at least in regards to stem cells, is that they can promote bone formation over cartilage, which is not what we want. There are natural substances that can be used for pain that have an overall positive effect for joints. Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in the spice Turmeric, when combined in the correct ratio with Bioperrine to make it more bioavailable, is one. Please see: http://www.regenexx.com/curcumin-for-knee-arthritis/ This was written for patients who have asked how to improve their stem cells prior to treatment, however, the same applies post treatment and for good joint health: http://www.regenexx.com/8-ways-improve-your-stem-cells-prior-treatment/ It takes many years and 100’s of millions of dollars for the FDA drug approval process. That, and the inability to regulate the content of a plant, might be the issue.

  2. Rod

    This article and the comment by Barb are very interesting.
    I have gone off of Voltaren before and am trying again, getting the last ski run is the least of it and actually makes light of what becomes a significant reduction in mobility for myself and probably others. I have been taking many natural supplements including the ones mentioned in doses as recommended by Regenexx for some time. At this point in my current attempt to stop the anti inflammatory drug use, I’m losing mobility fast and significantly.
    It is concerning that Barb has had no improvement with stem cell treatment, was it Regenexx?
    Please explain what the elevated risk factor of using Voltaren actually means as in risk increases by 50% .
    What is the original risk factor that increased? 50% of what and is it statistically significant?
    What influence does current health play?
    This is a balancing act, of coarse I do not want to die of a heart failure but I also want to be able to walk and use stairs. I have heard a lot of claims from several sources about the natural supplements ability but here in my reality they have yet to prove themselves significantly. I’m a low carb , low sugar, healthy eater trying hard, but at this point 50 mg of Voltarin and an occasional pain killer make the difference between walking somewhat easily Or having every step a toture test.
    There’s nothing I want more then to quit the drugs and move with some level of ease.
    Any suggestions are more then welcome.
    Thank you for the information and time.
    Rod

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Rod,
      As we’ve said, when all the right supplements and lifestyle changes don’t help, the next step would be to consider regenerative treatment to either “wake-up” the stem cells in the joint with platelet procedures, or if there are not enough stem cells in the joint, (this is evidenced by the severity of joint damage), then stem cells.Included in that process, is the type of exam which can pinpoint the cause of the issue, as treating the effect without treating the cause is futile. What the study said was a person’s risk increases by 50% above what it was, so if your risk was 50%, it would become 75%, if your risk was 2%, then your risk becomes 3%. No medical procedure works all the time, the point is to begin with the least invasive procedures which do not create permanent structural changes, as they are irreversible.

  3. James W Patek

    I read a more scientific explanation of the results of the Danish study and I suggest this be read (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2017-03-16-ibuprofen-claimed-to-raise-cardiac-arrest-risk-by-a-third/).

    One “Main finding” was that the use of Naproxen was not associated with cardiac arrest nor were COX-2 Inhibitors.

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      Thanks for providing this link. All NSAIDs carry cardiac risks based on multiple studies, but glad to have this information.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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