Stroke Risk Nearly Doubles with Standard Ibuprofen Dose

No one wanted to kill the NSAID cash cow, so millions of people have suffered from strokes.


Woman with weird makeup & distorted face

NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) use is closely associated with increased risk of strokes, nearly doubling for ibuprofen doses of more than 200 milligrams, which is the standard amount found in a single over the counter pill. The study, presented at the 2010 Congress of the European Society of Cardiology, documented that even low-dose usage of NSAIDs increased the risk of strokes by 28-86%, depending on the particular drug.(1)

Not a Surprise

The first NSAID was ibuprofen, which was approved by the FDA in 1974. It was known to increase blood flow to the brain after strokes by 1987(2) It should have been expected that effects on strokes would be found, but it’s only now—23 years later—that a definitive study has been done to address that concern.

The Study

The study addressed the entire population of Denmark over age ten, eliminated anyone who’d been in a hospital during the previous five years and anyone taking chronic medications for two years or more. The rest of the population, about half a million people, according to,(2) or a million people, according to, were included. The study was a review of these people from 1997-2005. All NSAIDs, except aspirin and low-dose ibuprofren, are available only by prescription in Denmark.

In January 1997, the median age of the subjects was 39 and 58% were male. During the nine year course of the study, 17% filled one prescription for NSAIDs, 14% filled two or three, and 14% filled four or more. 55% filled no prescriptions for NSAIDs. The average length of use was between 13 days (for rofecoxib) and 24 days (for naproxen).

The risk of stroke increased with amount of NSAID use. reported the following increased risks of stroke:

NSAID Increased
Ibuprofen 28%
Naproxen 35%
Rofecoxib 61%
Celecoxib 69%
Diclofenac 86%

When stroke risk was calculated for higher doses of NSAIDS, a clear connection with more strokes was made. When the dose of ibuprofen was greater than 200 milligrams—which is merely a single pill in most US and UK over the counter packaging—the stroke risk increased to an astonishing 90 percent—nearly double the risk of those who didn’t take NSAIDs! Diclofenac doses greater than 100 milligrams resulted in a full doubling of stroke risk.

The Implications

The report by Sue Hughes of noted that the author of the study, Dr. Gunnar Gislason, of Gentofte University Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark stated:

First we found an increased risk of MI with NSAIDs. Now we are finding the same thing for stroke. This is very serious, as these drugs are very widely used, with many available over the counter. We need to get the message out to healthcare authorities that these drugs need to be regulated more carefully.

Presenting a somewhat different angle, Mitchel Zoler of MedConnect quoted Gislason as saying that the public needs:

…increased awareness about the cardiovascular risk of NSAIDs, even in healthy people.

Though both of these points are, of course, significant, the most important of all wasn’t mentioned: Why wasn’t this study done long ago? The results shouldn’t be surprising in light of what’s already known about NSAIDs:

  • NSAIDs are known to increase heart attacks.
  • NSAIDs are known to kill people by causing gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • NSAIDs are known to increase blood flow to the brain after strokes.

That NSAIDs cause strokes should have been presumed. The calls for double blind placebo controlled studies to prove something that should have been assumed on the basis of what’s already known before taking steps to save people’s lives is a travesty. Nothing can better demonstrate the fallacy in such thinking. As Gislason stated:

If half the population takes these drugs, even on an occasional basis, then this could be responsible for a 50% to 100% increase in stroke risk. It is an enormous effect.

How many millions of people have succombed early or suffered diminished lives from strokes because of the refusal to address such an obvious risk?

There can only be one reason for such dereliction of modern medicine and its cohorts. There was no interest in killing the NSAID cash cow.

by Heidi Stevenson

9 September 2010


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