First up in this week’s news is an update to information on the link between Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and Atrial Fibrillation or Afib. While this link had been hinted at by other studies, a more recent Dutch study out of Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Center.

Long Term NSAID Use Problematic

Medical-Pills-BottleAccording to the study, when NSAIDs were taken for an extended period of time, greater than fifteen days, the risk for developing Afib soon after was 76% higher than for those who didn’t. The risk remained in effect even after 30 days of no NSAID use.

The study was conducted over more than 12 years and found that during that time more than 10 percent developed atrial fibrillation. As the study adjusted for age, sex and other factors, NSAIDs were found to have a significant relationship to the development of the arrhythmia in some patients. Other cardiac effects were measure to be occurring as well.

Issues for Chronic Pain Sufferers

This is important because many patients are on long term courses of NSAIDs for a varied of chronic pain disorders later in life. The extended use of the drug may need to be examined and the study’s results may lead to a warning on popular over-the-counter pain killers available without prescriptions.

The authors caution, however, that more study needs to be done to determine the specific physiologic effects that lead to the arrhythmia after NSAID use and that health professionals and consumers should not discontinue the use of these medications simply because of the study’s findings. I think this is one of those articles we should tuck into our back pockets and keep in mind when we identify patients with Afib or manage patients who are prescribed long term NSAID use for chronic conditions.

Medication Education for All Patients

We should also make sure we caution individuals about taking any non-prescription medication for a prolonged time on their own without consulting a healthcare professional. This means if the pain doesn’t go away after a few days of ibuprofen or naproxen, the patients should probably be coming in to get checked out for other possible treatments of their aches and pains.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Nursing for Code Sepsis Part 2 and Episode 291.

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