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Common NSAIDs focus of stiffer warning about health risks

Headaches, backaches, arthritis; how many of us in the Houston area suffer from such maladies. They're among the most common health issues we face on any given day and they tend to get worse with age.

And now there's something more to be concerned about. Some of the most common remedies we take for relief of those aches and pains may increase the risk of suffering injury or death due to heart attack or stroke for nearly everyone.

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued an alert to let consumers know that it is ordering producers of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to beef up the warnings on their labels. Those labels already carry warnings about the risk of heart attack and stroke, but the FDA says the new labels will offer greater specificity.

That's a good thing because NSAIDs are among the most popular OTC drugs available. They include such well-known brands as Motrin, Advil and Aleve. Those are known in the generic world as ibuprofen and naproxen. The pain relievers are also active ingredients in some multi-symptom cold products, so it's going to be important for consumers to be sure they know what they're taking.

Anyone who has taken these drugs to fight fever or pain knows that prolonged usage is not recommended without consulting your doctor. Taking the OTC versions of them to for too long was known to lead to possible gastrointestinal symptoms.

The FDA says the new warning makes clear that all those known risks remain and that "there is no period of use shown to be without risk." Heart attack and stroke risk rises even in the first weeks of taking the medications. And everyone may be at risk, not just those with existing cardiovascular disease.

By the way, aspirin is an NSAID, too, but the new warning doesn't apply to that particular drug.

If you suffer adverse effects from drugs taken as directed, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your damages. To learn more, consult an attorney. The initial consultation is usually free.

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