Monday, 12 March 2018

Are you at risk of a heart attack or stroke from your painkiller?

The NZ Herald last month published increased risk of a heart attack or stroke from just 4 weeks of use of 5 different painkillers – ibuprofen, celacoxib, mefenamic acid, diclofenac and naproxen.  The trials were done on a large sample size, 56,000 people with hypertension (high blood pressure).

The published study noted that the risk of a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke from 4 weeks of use ranged from 1 in 104 adults to 1 in 394 adults.  There were no significant statistical incidence difference between the 5 drugs.  The events were documented when patients were hospitalised for strokes, heart attacks, TIA and angina.  This has cardiologists calling for tougher control on these Non-Steroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) as some can be purchased from the supermarket from as low as 20 cents per tablet. This puts patients with hypertension at a higher risk if they also suffer from pain and are using NSAIDs to medicate their pain.

In light of this risk, what can you do to deal with pain?  There are many natural options to address the problem.  Natural interventions like acupuncture, massage and frequency specific microcurrent are great methods to reduce and alleviate pain.

If pain is constant and repetitive, address the cause of it - is it from an inflammatory diet that does not agree with you?  Do you have an intolerance that repeatedly trigger the inflammation? Do you have lifestyle habits that are inflammatory?  If you do, change them.

Some of the things you can do include:
  1. Eat a diet high in fresh vegetables and fruits that agree with you.  For some people consuming the vegetables in the nightshade family can increase their pain.  Nightshades include tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum, eggplant and tamarillos.
  2. Reduce intake of processed foods – even if it says high fibre or five star health rating on the packaging.  Most people start of their day with highly processed breakfast cereal that converts to sugar easily and get their inflammatory process brewing. 
  3. Cut out sugar – in all forms.  Sugar is inflammatory.
  4. Breathe and oxygenate – oxygen is crucial to life.  Deep breathing into the abdomen rather than just shallow breathing (like when we are stressed) will help.  If you are shallow breathing because of stress, practice mindfulness, yoga or download some apps to help de-stress. 
  5. Consult your natural health practitioner for herbs and supplements that will tailor towards the type of inflammation and pain you are experiencing- i.e. is it muscular, joint, glandular, headache, abdominal, etc.

Please do not just cover up the symptoms of pain with a band aid like NSAID as it may cause you a major cardiac event!

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