1. What are NSAID’s?

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are medicines are widely used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and bring down a high temperature, often to relieve symptoms of headaches, painful periods, sprains and strains, colds and flu, arthritis, and other causes of long-term pain. Although NSAIDs are commonly used, they’re not necessarily suitable for everyone and can sometimes cause troublesome side effects. Certain studies have even found that these readily available cures can increase the risk of bleeding, clotting, lead to arrhythmia and even death for some suffering of heart disease.

2. Let’s talk RISK

  • NSAIDs can cause high blood pressure, and if you already suffer from high blood pressure, these medications can make it worse. This increases your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke.
  • NSAIDs can also keep some blood pressure drugs from working right. NSAIDs can interfere with:
  • Diuretics, or water pills which are used to remove excess water from the blood vessels
  • ACE inhibitors, used to relax the blood vessels.
  • ARBs are another group of drugs that relax the blood vessels.
  • Long-term use of NSAIDs can severely affect the heart and kidneys by making the body hold onto fluid. This can worsen the symptoms of heart failure, such as shortness of breath, swollen ankles, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. 
  • Possible side effects of NSAIDs include:
    • indigestion – including stomach aches, feeling sick and diarrhoea
    • stomach ulcers – these can cause internal bleeding and anaemia
    • headaches
    • drowsiness
    • dizziness
    • allergic reactions

3. What about other medicines?

  • Aspirin

Patients using blood thinners should take note of the effects that this medication has on other anticoagulant (blood thinners). Aspirin supports the body in non-clot formation and is often used as a daily formula to support patients recently recovering from stent procedures. However, without proper medical supervision this medication can lead to severe bodily harm! If you are unsure if you can take Aspirin, always consult with your doctor first.

  • Certain Antibiotics

The dangerous effect from the use of antibiotic is highest in people who have heart disease, but everyone should be aware of it. Certain antibiotics can lead to arrhythmia, which is the disruption of the heart’s electrical activity. 

But even if you do not suffer from heart diseases the incorrect use of antibiotics can lead to the promotion of antibiotic resistance. Always consult with your doctor when taking antibiotics to understand the side effects and health impact.

  • Antihistamines

Antihistamines are generally taken to treat allergies, colds, runny notes, etc. and are safe for heart patients unless you are already on medication to treat high blood pressure.  The combination of these medications can cause an unexpected spike in blood pressure and ultimately lead to serious arrhythmias. To choose the right medication it is best to consult with your doctor first!

4. How to manage pain without taking OTC medication

Non-drug treatments, such as yoga or massage, can often reduce or even replace the need for drugs. Here are some things you can try, depending on the type and level of pain you are experiencing:

  • Back pain. 

Stay physically active – walking is always a good choice. 

Acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, and yoga can help reduce pain, too. Specialist care like that from a chiropractor may also help.

  • Headaches. 

Cut back on alcohol and avoid foods that trigger your headaches. Exercise can help reduce stress that causes headaches. So can meditation, deep breathing, and other forms of relaxation therapy. And don’t forget to drink water, especially as the temperatures in summer starts to soar.

  • Osteoarthritis. 

Do low-impact exercise, such as walking, biking, and yoga. This can help ease pain and stiffness. Avoid high-impact activities, such as running or tennis which could actually aggravate your symptoms.

  • Fibromyalgia. 

Get regular exercise to help reduce pain and give you more energy. Tai chi— a form of exercise involving slow, gentle movements combined with deep breathing—are good options. Meditation can help with pain as the body and mind connection releases serotonin (feel good hormone). Another option is counseling known as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Caution:  should your pain level become unbearable or remain unchanged for more than 3 days at a high level or even spike quickly, get in touch with your doctor immediately.

Final thoughts…

At German Heart Centre we put patient care, comfort, and health first!  Medications are only one of the methods applied in our treatment plans. Our team is ready to answer any questions you may have regarding the OTC medications reviewed during a comprehensive consultation. Get in touch to speak to our experts. 


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