MONDAY, May 22, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Common painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are associated with a 30 percent increased risk in older patients of first hospital admission for heart failure, a U.K. study reports.
The four-year study of people aged 60 to 84 found that a previous diagnosis of heart failure, obesity, being a smoker, and a history of recent in-patient stays and specialist appointments were all associated with a greater chance of being admitted to hospital for heart failure for the first time.
Of those admitted to hospital, 14 percent were taking NSAIDs at the time of their admission, compared with 10 percent of a comparison group of randomly selected people. Half the people admitted to hospital were aged 70 to 79.
Of all the NSAIDs, indomethacin (indocin) was associated with the highest risk. People taking that drug were three times more likely to be admitted to hospital than people who weren't taking indomethacin. Osteoarthritis was the most common reason why people took NSAIDs.
The study authors concluded that for every 1,000 people aged 60 to 84 taking NSAIDS, there would be one extra first hospital admission for heart failure. That could increase to three additional cases per 1,000 people among patients aged 70 and older with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney failure.
The findings appear in the current online issue of Heart.
Heart failure is a common cause of illness and death among the elderly, the researchers noted.
"Even a small increase in the risk can translate into a significant disease burden in the general population," they wrote.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about NSAIDs.