People living with type 2 diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop heart failure if they take ibuprofen, a new study has revealed.
Sufferers of the condition, which, according to Diabetes UK, affects one in 10 Britons over 40, are more likely to experience pain than non-sufferers, and may therefore be inclined to take painkillers more frequently.
Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels that supply the nerves in your body. This stops essential nutrients reaching the nerves, which can lead to various forms of discomfort, from tingling and numbness, to burning and shooting pains.
Though previous studies have linked use of the anti-inflammartory drug to heart failure among the general population, there is relatively little information as to how the painkiller affects people with pre-existing conditions.
The Copenhagen University study found that type 2 diabetes patients who took ibuprofen and were over the age of 65 were at much greater risk of heart failure than those under 65 years old.
Furthermore, the risk of hospitalisation among those taking the drugs infrequently or for the first time was significantly higher
The Danish researchers observed 300,000 patients with type 2 diabetes for a period of nearly six years.
Of that group, 50,000 took anti-inflammatory drugs – ibuprofen being one. Half of those who took the painkillers were hospitalised with heart failure for the first time, the team said.
Lead author of the study Dr Anders Holt of Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark, said the results suggest that “increased risk of heart failure should be taken into account when considering the use of these medications”.
“On the contrary, the data indicates that it may be safe to prescribe short-term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for patients below 65 years of age and those with well-controlled diabetes,” Dr Holt added.
Dr Holt did, however, mark that data on the over-the-counter use of ibuprofen was not included in the study.
Dr Faye Riley, research communications manager at Diabetes UK, told The Sun: “We know that NSAIDs [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs], which are commonly used to treat pain and inflammation, are linked to heart complications.
“Living with type 2 diabetes can also increase the risk of developing heart problems.”
She added: “These findings emphasise the importance of careful consideration when it comes to prescribing NSAIDs to those who are already at a higher risk of heart problems, including people living with type 2 diabetes.
“However it’s important to note that for many, NSAIDs are safe to take. If you’re living with type 2 diabetes and are taking NSAIDs, it’s important to discuss any concerns with your healthcare professional.”
The findings, from the Danish registry study, are being presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress.