Background: Non-aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NANSAIDs) have complex effects that could either prevent or promote coronary heart disease. Comparison of the NANSAID rofexocib with naproxen showed a substantial difference in acute myocardial infarction risk, which has been interpreted as a protective effect of naproxen. We did an observational study to measure the effects of NANSAIDs, including naproxen, on risk of serious coronary heart disease.
Methods: We used data from the Tennessee Medicaid programme obtained between Jan 1, 1987, and Dec 31, 1998, to identify a cohort of new NANSAID users (n=181 441) and an equal number of non-users, matched for age, sex, and date NANSAID use began. Both groups were 50-84 years of age, were not resident in a nursing home, and did not have life-threatening illness. The study endpoint was hospital admission for acute myocardial infarction or death from coronary heart disease.
Findings: During 532634 person-years of follow-up, 6362 cases of serious coronary heart disease occurred, or 11.9 per 1000 person-years. Multivariate-adjusted rate ratios for current and former use of NANSAIDs were 1.05 (95% CI 0.97-1.14) and 1.02 (0.97-1.08), respectively. Rate ratios for naproxen, ibuprofen, and other NANSAIDs were 0.95 (0.82-1.09), 1.15 (1.02-1.28), and 1.03 (0.92-1.16), respectively. There was no protection among long-term NANSAID users with uninterrupted use; the rate ratio among current users with more than 60 days of continuous use was 1.05 (0.91-1.21). When naproxen was directly compared with ibuprofen, the current-use rate ratio was 0.83 (0.69-0.98).
Interpretation: Absence of a protective effect of naproxen or other NANSAIDs on risk of coronary heart disease suggests that these drugs should not be used for cardioprotection.