Treatment with NSAIDs may increase CVD risk in patients with osteoarthritis

NSAIDs, which are often used to treat pain and inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis, may contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in these patients, according to a new study published on August 6, 2019, in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

The study, based in British Columbia, Canada, analyzed 7,743 patients with osteoarthritis and 23,229 control participants without the disease. The researchers found that, as in previous studies, patients with osteoarthritis were 23% more likely to develop CVD than those who did not have the condition. Those with osteoarthritis also had a 42% greater risk of developing congestive heart failure, as well as a 17% greater risk of ischemic heart disease and 14% greater risk of stroke.

“Our results indicate that osteoarthritis is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and suggest a substantial proportion of the increased risk is due to the use of NSAIDs,” said senior study author Aslam Anis, PhD, FCAHS, and professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, in a statement.

Indeed, the study found that approximately 41% of the increased CVD risk among patients with osteoarthritis could be attributed to NSAID use. “This is highly relevant because NSAIDs are some of the most commonly used drugs to manage pain in patients with osteoarthritis,” said Anis.

According to the researchers, this is the first large-scale longitudinal study to assess the influence of NSAIDs on CVD risk in patients with osteoarthritis. “It’s important for people with [osteoarthritis] to talk to their care providers and discuss the risks and benefits of NSAIDs,” urged Anis.