Chances are neither statement is true. Xerox was the early leader in photocopying and yet we still use it as a verb to explain we are making a copy of something. Aspirin is much the same. Oftentimes we say we are taking an aspirin when in fact we are really taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) medication perhaps called Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc. It is important to know the difference and particularly important to recognize the NSAIDs are now being connected to increased heart risks.
Researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center (CRCHUM), collectively analyzed results on 446,763 people of whom 61,460 had a heart attack. The researchers found that people taking NASID’s were at risk of suffering a heart attack increasing by 20% to 50% with their use. They found a heighted risk of a heart attack for people using NASID’s, in fact the probability was increased by as much as 90%. This was greatest for those using higher doses and during the first month they were using them.
BMJ (British Medical Journal) emphasized this was an observational study based on drug prescribing or dispensing and not all potentially influential factors could be considered. They conclude: “Given that the onset of risk of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurred in the first week and appeared greatest in the first month of treatment with higher doses, prescribers should consider weighing the risks of benefits of NSAIDs before instituting treatment particularly for higher doses.
The following is a reprint of a handout we have often distributed at First Care clinic to explain the difference between “Aspirins”. We hope you’ll find it helpful.
Aspirin….. It’s Not That Simple!
Aspirin is one of the oldest and most widely used medications in the world today. In fact, it is estimated the world population consumes 40,000 tons of acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) each year. But there are many considerations and decisions when deciding to use aspirin. First, the medication goes by many names, some of which are not even aspirin. We have all heard this common medication referred to as Aspirin, Bayer, Ibuprofen, Aleve, Tylenol, Naproxen and Advil. Etc. Here is some straight talk about Aspirin and similar medications.
Aspirin. Is marketed as Bayer or Bufferin, and is absorbed into the bloodstream and essentially looks for areas where we feel pain. Aspirin is used to treat headaches of all sizes, to suppress minor body aches and pains, and to reduce inflammation when we’re sore. But it’s rough on the upper digestive tract (can cause upset stomach, heartburn, and even dyspepsia)
Ibuprofen. Sold as Motrin or Advil, is chemically similar to regular aspirin and functions in a similar way. In lower doses, ibuprofen seems to irritate the esophagus and stomach lining less than aspirin and naproxen. If you have ulcers or acid reflux disease, ibuprofen may be the best product for pain clearly resulting from inflammation (arthritis, sprains, sunburns, etc.).
Naproxen. Sold as Aleve, is especially effective as an anti-inflammatory agent for arthritis, headaches, sprains, sunburns and other inflammation-based pain, naproxen seems to edge its competition. Many women suffering from menstrual cramps also report that naproxen is more effective than standard aspirin. Also, similar doses of this over-the-counter pain reliever tend to last longer, often for 8-12 hours instead of 4-8 hours.
Acetaminophen. Sold as Tylenol, lowers fevers and soothes headaches effectively, but it is not an anti-inflammatory substance. As a result, it won’t do much for arthritis or sprains. It is less irritating to the lining of the stomach, making it the best headache treatment for people with acid reflux disease, ulcers, and the like.
Be aware that because it’s usual dosage for pain relief and its overdose amount are not incredibly different, some doctors consider acetaminophen to be more dangerous than aspirin, arguing that it is easier to overdose unintentionally. It is one of the most overdosed drugs in the word. You should not take more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen a day.
As usual, one must always read the important warnings that accompany any medications.