By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For aches and pains, headache and fever, people will take anti-inflammatory drugs — for example Advil, Aleve, Motrin — all available over the counter.

But should they be prescription only?

A Danish study looked at 29,000 patients with cardiac arrest and whether they had taken this type of medicine.

The risk of a cardiac arrest was increased by 30 percent for those who took ibuprofen in the month before.

“Just because a medication’s over the counter doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe without the advice of your doctor,” warns West Penn Hospital internist Dr. Brian Lamb.

To clarify, Tylenol is not an anti-inflammatory, or an NSAID. NSAIDs are drugs containing ibuprofen or naproxen. To relieve pain, these medicines work on an enzyme that reduces inflammation, but can also affect blood vessels.

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In 2015, the FDA added a warning in the packaging about heart and stroke risks.

“It’s always best to talk to your doctor to see if this medication is right for you. And if you have any risk factors, especially to talk and make sure it’s safe for you to take,” Dr. Lamb adds.

This type of study can’t show cause and effect, but picks up on a pattern worth noting. These medicines work well for common conditions, but should be used with caution even in the short term.

“Trying to make them prescription only may be an uphill battle,” he surmises.

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