Cardiovascular Risk of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: An Under-Recognized Public Health Issue

Cureus. 2017 Apr 8;9(4):e1144. doi: 10.7759/cureus.1144.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are drugs with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic activity. Their effect is achieved by the reduction in synthesis of prostanoids. Inhibition of prostanoids is responsible for a substantial risk of adverse effects. The risk of side effects affecting the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys has long been known. The possibilities of blood pressure elevation and the development of congestive heart failure are also widely recognized. Increased incidence of acute myocardial infarction in clinical trials with rofecoxib drew attention to the potential cardiotoxicity of selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, and similarly, concerns have been raised regarding the cardiovascular safety of non-selective NSAIDs. The safety of NSAIDs with regards to cardiovascular events has been studied in recent years in a large number of retrospective and prospective clinical studies and meta-analyses. The results indicate that cardiotoxicity is a class effect, but the magnitude of the risk is widely variable between individual NSAID drugs. This article aims to summarize the available data on the risk of adverse cardiovascular events with NSAIDs, the clinical impact of these events and possible underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: adverse effect; arterial hypertension; cardiovascular event; cardiovascular risk; heart failure; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Publication types

  • Review