1. Prescription painkillers increase heart risk

    Painkillers linked to heart risk

    Remember Vioxx, the prescription painkiller so dangerous it got pulled from the market?

    Well, don't breathe a sigh of relief if you're not among the drug's many victims, because you could be taking a prescription painkiller with some Vioxx-like risks right now and not even realize it -- until it's too late.

    Common NSAID painkillers such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, and coxibs can double your risk of heart failure and increase your overall heart risk by about a third with long-term use, according to a new analysis of some 650 studies involving more than 350,000 patients combined.

    All told, that adds up to eight extra coronary or vascular events out of every 1,000 high-dose patients, three of which will be major ones such as heart attacks and two of which will actually kill the patient, according to the study in Lancet.

    And of course, the study also confirms that these prescription painkillers can increase the risk of serious upper GI problems such as bleeding ulcers, in some cases by as much as 400 percent.

    If there's a silver lining here, it's that the study finds the risk kicks in with high doses taken for longer periods. In other words, an ibuprofen for an occasional headache probably won't kill you -- although I'd still recommend other options for pain relief first.

    But millions of people don't take these drugs for occasional pain.

    Like the patients in the new study, they take high doses of NSAIDs nearly every day -- and many of them are seniors battling chronic pain conditions such as arthritis.

    If you're battling chronic pain yourself, I know you could feel like you're caught between a rock and a hard place, especially if your own doctor has already told you there's nothing you can do but swallow more painkillers and hope for the best.

    But you don't have to take those prescription painkillers -- and you don't have to deal with the pain, either.

    Instead of NSAIDs, try safe and natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin and fish oil, which can ease pain and protect the heart at the same time.

    In addition, MSM, homeopathic remedies and nondrug therapies such as acupuncture and cold laser can also beat pain as well as or better than drugs -- but without the risks.

    And if you find that those aches and pains are still giving you trouble, just two drops could be all it takes to soothe the twinges away fast. Joint pain... muscle aches... bumps and bruises... could all be relieved on contact! Click here to learn more from our friends and affiliates at NorthStar Nutritionals.

  2. Painkillers boost heart risk

    Survive a heart attack, and you can count yourself among the lucky.

    You're alive.

    But if you pop a painkiller afterwards, your luck might quickly run out: A new study links some of the world's most commonly used drugs to an increased risk of a second heart attack.

    Researchers say non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can boost the risk of another attack or even death by as much as 45 percent in a single week of use -- and by 55 percent after three months.

    The study of 83,677 Danish heart attack patients found the highest risks among those who used diclofenac, a common generic painkiller that's also sold under the names Voltaren and Cataflam.

    The researchers say diclofenac tripled and even quadrupled the odds of heart attack or death in the first week alone. The odds went down after that first week... but they could hardly go up from there, could they?

    Diclofenac was so dangerous that it actually did worse in this study than Vioxx, the drug banned over its heart risk.

    That's not exactly the kind of company you want your meds to keep.

    Researchers say naproxen appeared to be safest, because it "only" increased the risk in the first week of use. Ibuprofen was next, "only" increasing the risk of death by 4 percent in the first week -- but that risk continued to climb the longer it was used, maxing out in week six.

    But if you think you can carefully pick your painkillers and find one that's completely safe, you're wasting your time.

    All of these meds come with risks, and NSAIDs have some of the most notorious -- including serious internal bleeding. These drugs are responsible for up to 20 percent of all ulcers... and I wouldn't be surprised if they played a supporting role in the other 80 percent.

    For men, there's another risk that might be even worse: erectile dysfunction.

    One study I told you about earlier this year found that men who use NSAIDs daily have a 22 percent higher risk of penis problems than men who don't. (Read more here.)

    You might think that having sex is the last thing you should be doing after a heart attack -- but believe it or not, research has shown that keeping busy in the bedroom can actually help you recover.

    Coincidentally, it's also one of the best natural forms of pain relief around.

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