Adverse Cardiovascular Effects of NSAIDs: Driven by Blood Pressure, or Edema?


Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease 2008 – Volume 2, Number 1 Ashish Aneja MD; Michael E. Farkouh MD, MSc Abstract The non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nsNSAIDs) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors are commonly utilized agents for musculoskeletal conditions. The harmful cardiorenal effects of some nsNSAIDs are well described and thought to be related to inhibition of prostanoid synthesis. Since the non-specific inhibition of both cyclooxygenase enzymes was associated with a higher incidence of gastrointestinal side effects, the selective targeting of the COX-2 enzymes with the COX-2 inhibitors promised and delivered a lower incidence of gastrointestinal side effects. However, the COX-2 inhibitors have not been found to be bereft of cardiorenal side effects. Indeed, some of these agents lead to increased blood pressure, an excessive risk of congestive heart failure and pro-thrombotic effects, especially in high risk populations. These deletrious effects, however, may not be class-specific and possibly related to pharmacokinetics, enzyme specificity and endothelium effects. This article also reviews the body of literature linking the nsNSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors with important adverse cardiorenal effects and their putative mechanisms.

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