Why drugs increase risk of heart attacks, strokes

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 24, 2011 10:50 hrs

A new study has shown that fluid retention caused by many drugs may be the reason for an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The study, which calculated the effects of fluid retention upon the velocity of blood flow and the turbulence of flowing blood, demonstrated that it increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The pain medications Vioxx and Bextra, and the anti-diabetic medication Avandia, cause fluid retention. Vioxx and Bextra, known as cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, were withdrawn from the market because of safety concerns over heart attacks and strokes, and Avandia has been suspected in some reports of increasing the risk of heart attacks.

Fluid retention causes turbulent blood flow, which in turn accelerates atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), thereby increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Many medications cause fluid retention, which raises blood pressure in some, but not all, individuals.

"This paper demonstrates that fluid retention is unhealthy because it increases the likelihood that blood will flow in a turbulent manner regardless of whether or not blood pressure is raised. Therefore, drugs that cause the body to retain fluid are dangerous for the cardiovascular system," said Robert P. Blankfield at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

"If the FDA had been aware of the increased cardiovascular risk that arises from drugs that cause fluid retention, Vioxx, Bextra, and Avandia might never have been approved. These findings might spur the FDA to alter some of its current policies," he said.

"Based upon the calculations in the manuscript, the FDA ought to require verification of cardiovascular safety for all medications, old as well as new, that cause fluid retention," he added.

Other medications like Celebrex, Advil, Motrin, Neurontin, Lyrica and Tegretol are also retention causing medications.

Blankfield suggests that it may be possible to reduce or neutralize the increased cardiovascular risk that occurs as a result of fluid retention simply by using a diuretic.

The research is published in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation. (ANI)

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