Tag Archives: tylenol

Common Pain Killers Increase Stroke Risk

Medicine Drug Pills on Plate

The news on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs just keeps getting worse and worse.  Just a month ago I posted about how this class of drugs was associated with an increased risk of heart problems.  Now a Danish study has found that these drugs are associated with an increased risk of stroke.

This class of drugs known as NSAIDs are used mainly as pain killers.  They are also used to effectively reduce fevers.  They are available over the counter and are used by millions upon millions of Americans every day.  This new

study finds that even short-term use of these drugs leads to an increased risk of having a stroke in the future.  What’s even scarier is that they studied a healthy population.

In many instances these types of studies are done on people with already existing conditions that make it difficult to assess whether the increased risk is associated with a person’s previously existing condition or the medication.  Not this time.

Over 500,000 healthy Danish people were included in this study.  The authors used a prescription registry to track which of these people were prescribed an NSAID.  About 45% of them took an NSAID from 1997-2005.  They then used stroke data from further hospitalization and death registries and estimated the risk of fatal and nonfatal stroke associated with the use of NSAIDs.

Results showed that NSAID use was associated with an increased risk of stroke. This increased risk ranged from about 30% with ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) to 86% with diclofenac (Voltaren). The data were controlled for age, gender, and socioeconomic status.

They noted that there was a dose dependent relationship as well.  With doses over 200mg of ibuprofen the risk increased by a staggering 90%!  This is quite problematic as the base dose for over the counter ibuprofen is 200mg.  Millions of Americans take much more than that on a daily basis.

The authors of the study were not terribly surprised by the data considering the recent studies that have surfaced regarding the negative effects these medications seem to have on the cardiovascular system.  They did say it is hard to make absolute conclusions because no randomized controlled studies exist to date.  In light of this most recent evidence I doubt you will ever get an institutional review board to approve such a study because the risk seems to be too high.

The author also stated that in Denmark the availability of NSAIDs over the counter is relatively low compared to the United States. He stressed the need for closer monitoring of these drugs.

He also said, “If half the population takes these drugs, even on an occasional basis, then this could be responsible for a 50% to 100% increase in stroke risk. It is an enormous effect.”

In my opinion, we need to regulate these drugs as closely as possible.  If one were to watch the evening news you would see these drugs being advertised as health food practically.  It is studies like these that make it abundantly clear  they are not without risk.

Options abound for people who take these on a regular basis for mild to moderate pain.  Exercise and diet are a great start.  Reducing the use of NSAIDs would likely have a very positive effect on the cost of health care in the U.S. We need all the help we can get in that department.

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$1000 Tooth Brush, $140 Tylenol! See the Video

Here is a short video from http://www.cnn.com that everyone should watch.  This is partly to blame for why health care is so expensive.

This piece by CNN really illustrates the problem with American health care.  In this piece they say that as long as the bill isn’t over $100,000 they just pay it.  Firstly, that isn’t true.  Being in the health care field I know how insurance companies can nickel and dime doctors to death.  Secondly, if it is true, then these insurance companies must be making exorbitant amounts of money.  They’d have to be to consider paying anything less than $100,000 without looking at the actual bill!

While some of these mistakes might be honest errors, I find it very hard to believe.  I have a personal experience with this as well.  My grandfather was in the hospital for an extended time and was also charged more than $120 for a single Tylenol.  It always amazes me that this doesn’t get more attention and that the hospitals don’t get into more trouble for their billing practices.

The double standard that exists between billing at hospitals and individual practitioners is astounding.  I have many colleagues who are forced to return money to insurance companies despite the fact that they were billing the insurance companies as they were told to. Later on they find out the rules had changed but the insurance company failed to notify them of this change.  Even in these scenarios, when it is clearly the insurance company who made the mistake, they sue to recoup the claims they paid to the practitioner.  It proves they are much more likely to go after the individual because they most likely have limited funds to fight the litigation, whereas hospitals will not be limited by money.

The insurance companies are being irresponsible with your money, which in turn, costs you more money.  The fact that they simply pay these amounts without actually looking at the bills from the hospital drives up your premium cost.  Is it any wonder that it cost almost $17,000 to insure a family of 4 in 2009. Think the cost of health insurance is not affected by such wasteful spending by managed care firms?  Check out the statistics.

  1. $16,771 for a family of four in 2009
  2. $15,609 for a family of four in 2008
  3. $14,500 for a family of four in 2007
  4. $13,382 for a family of four in 2006
  5. $12,214 for a family of four in 2005

From 2005 to 2009 it costs an extra $379 per month per family.  Many families don’t have that laying around to spend.  As it is, they are already spending $1400 per month on health insurance.  This is only part of the problem, however.

Insurance costs would decrease significantly if people became healthier in this country.  We need to teach people how to eat better and exercise.  This would significantly reduce the burden on the health industry resulting is lower costs overall.  Diets focusing on healthy fats and protein with less emphasis on grain and carbohydrate is the only way to achieve this.  Anything else, such as the low fat paradigm, will only make the problem worse.

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