What Happens To Your Heart When You Take Ibuprofen Every Day

Ibuprofen works for just about all your aches and pains, doesn't it? You can take it over-the-counter for a toothache, menstrual cramps, or a headache, and it also works for fever. Prescription ibuprofen helps to treat certain types of arthritis. Ibuprofen is one of several nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that work by blocking the production of certain chemicals called prostaglandins (per Medline Plus).

While taking ibuprofen every once in a while for aches or cramps is relatively safe, they aren't meant to be taken for more than 10 days unless you talk to your doctor. Taking ibuprofen every day increases your risk of side effects such as gastrointestinal distress or ulcers (via WebMD). According to a 2017 article in Cureus, taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen could also have side effects such as insomnia, vertigo, or sodium and water retention. The sodium and water retention linked with NSAIDs has the potential to increase your blood pressure. This fluid retention can be riskier for people who already have kidney or heart problems and can worsen pre-existing congestive heart failure.

Ibuprofen can increase stroke and heart attack

Not all NSAIDs have the same effect on your heart, according to a 2011 meta-analysis in BMJ. The study pulled the results of 31 research trials comparing the effects of naproxen, ibuprofen, celecoxib (Celebrex), and four other NSAIDs on cardiovascular risk. The analysis found that ibuprofen had three times the risk of stroke and twice the risk for cardiovascular death compared to a placebo. People taking ibuprofen were also at a 61% higher risk of having a heart attack and a 77% higher risk of death. Naproxen had the smallest effect on cardiovascular risk, but the researchers concluded that NSAIDs can strain your cardiovascular health.

As a 2020 review in Nature Reviews Cardiology reported, people with cardiovascular disease are already advised against taking NSAIDs because of the risk of heart failure and high blood pressure. Even so, people, particularly older adults, don't want to turn to opioids to manage their pain. However, a cardiovascular event can occur even if someone takes NSAIDs for less than seven days. The researchers suggested that people with cardiovascular disease should opt for physical therapy, exercise, and weight management to manage their pain and cardiovascular risk.

Taking ibuprofen safely

If you're taking many medications for certain conditions, Medline Plus suggests making your doctor or pharmacist aware of your herbal supplements, vitamins, or medications before taking ibuprofen. You should avoid taking ibuprofen if you're already taking pain medication. Your doctor or dentist should know if you're taking ibuprofen before surgery.

Some people are more prone to side effects, according to WebMD. Older adults, people who smoke or drink alcohol, or those in poor health might experience ibuprofen's side effects. Certain medications such as blood thinners, steroids, or antidepressants also increase your likelihood of side effects from ibuprofen. To protect your stomach from the side effects of ibuprofen, try taking it with milk, food, or an antacid. Even if you have a searing headache, don't take more than the recommended dosage on the label. The label will also tell you the maximum doses within 24 hours. If you want to avoid ibuprofen and NSAIDs, acetaminophen (Tylenol) can take care of headaches and fever.