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Popular Pain Relievers Boost Heart Risk

Q. I have taken naproxen regularly for the last several years, having had knee replacement and shoulder surgery. When I take naproxen, my blood pressure goes up from 115/70 to about 145/94.
I was told my blood pressure problem was unrelated to the drug, but when I quit taking naproxen my blood pressure went back down to 115/70. I can’t find anything about this and wonder what else I can do for pain.

A. A recent report from Denmark (Circulation, July 2010) included over one million people taking NSAID pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren, etc), celecoxib (Celebrex) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, etc). The investigators found that, except for naproxen, “most NSAIDs are associated with increased cardiovascular mortality and morbidity.”
Although you discovered that naproxen raises your blood pressure, this medicine is the only one in the study that did not increase the risk for heart attack or stroke. It is, however, associated with hypertension and gastrointestinal bleeding, so benefits and risks must be weighed carefully.
We are sending you our Guides to Alternatives for Arthritis and Blood Pressure Treatment so that you can find some less conventional ways to manage your pain without affecting your blood pressure.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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