It seems that just about every other patient I see who walks into the clinic is taking Motrin for knee swelling or arthritis. They’re relatively happy that they’re avoiding prescription drugs, blissfully unaware that they are buying a dangerous drug at the grocery store. I can usually give them a mental image in one sentence that gets the point across that they need to stop to protect their health. This morning I’ve placed these mental images above.
What do you see? I used the heart attack risk calculator that the NIH has on-line. As an aside, for some reason this one still has total cholesterol on it, which went our of favor as a heart risk factor last year. However, I left that number normal for all of my calculations. I then plugged in various values until I saw a tripling in risk for a heart attack, which is about the extent of the increased risk from taking Motrin. Surprised that taking Motrin can buy you a higher risk of a heart attack? Yes, the American Heart Association now has a program to warn physicians and the public about this danger.
[Note that since this calculator looks at 10 year risk, I am likely under-estimating the type of heart rhythm disturbance, sudden death risk that comes with taking Motrin.]
The first change in risk above is that a 30 year old, otherwise healthy woman who takes Motrin takes on the heart attack risk of a 70 year old woman! Ouch! How about a 50 year old guy who exercises regularly and has never smoked a day in his life? He’s proud that he has kept himself in tip top shape! He buys the risk of an obese 50 year old guy that smokes! How about that same 50 year old guy in great shape who takes Motrin and now has the same heart attack risk of an overweight guy who has high blood pressure and needs to take medications.
The upshot? People who have worked hard to be the picture of health and who have very low cardiac risk profiles can wreck that by deciding to pop Motrin for their aches and pain. Don’t be that person! Now that you’re read this piece, stop the Motrin or Advil and investigate natural alternatives to handle inflammation!