Voltaren becomes prescription-risk of cardiovascular side effects
Now comes new alarms about the pain-relieving substance diclofenac, which is found among other things in the product Voltaren. Diclofenac can cause side effects on the heart and vessels, even at lower doses and shorter treatment times.
Consumption of non-prescription pain tablets is steadily increasing. Many take them out of the old habit when the pain sets in, others take them to prevent the pain from occurring at all. Whatever the cause, it is crucial to understand the body's warning signals, to listen to the body, and to know that the pain tablets are far from harmless.
A comprehensive study from 2019 reported cardiovascular side effects when using medications containing the drug substance diclofenac, which are found in, among others, Voltaren, Eeze and Arthrotec. Diclofenac belongs to the group of NSAIDs, so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and is used to curb inflammation, reduce fever and relieve pain. The Swedish Medicines Agency has decided to make medicines with diclofenac prescription from 1 June 2020.
For increased patient safety
Previous studies have shown that higher doses of diclofenac pose risks for cardiovascular side effects.
Still, in the latest research, researchers were also able to determine that risks exist at smaller doses and shorter treatment times.
Paulina Tuvendal, a clinical investigator at the Swedish Medical Products Agency, says in a press release:
– The new study provides support for the increased risk of cardiovascular side effects that have been known to exist even at lower doses and in short-term use.
The decision to prescribe diclofenac increases safety of patient by enabling doctors to inform about the risks and to make an overall assessment of whether there is a risk of cardiovascular impact.
Alternatives to Voltaren
The European Medicines Agency has for a long time, followed previous reviews of NSAIDs and has previously only seen a small risk of cardiovascular side effects for diclofenac compared to other NSAIDs. But the new study showed an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, heart failure, heart attack, stroke and death due to cardiovascular disease, for both men and women of all ages.
People who have had a heart attack, stroke and those with severe cardiovascular disease should not use diclofenac. Patients with high blood pressure elevated cholesterol levels, diabetics or smokers should use diclofenac only after the advice of a physician.
Instead, painkillers and non-prescription products with paracetamol, ibuprofen or naproxen are available. Products with diclofenac used on the skin will still be non-prescription. There is no risk of cardiovascular side effects.