April 8th, 2014

NSAID Use Associated with Atrial Fibrillation in Older People

Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the elderly is associated with an increased risk for atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a prospective study in BMJ Open.

Using a Dutch cohort designed to investigate risk factors of disease onset in the aged, researchers followed some 8400 people for 13 years. None had AF at baseline (when their mean age was 69 years).

Current use of NSAIDs for 15 to 30 days was associated with a higher AF risk, relative to never use (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.76). Use in the recent past (within the past 30 days) also brought increased risk (HR, 1.84). There was a suggestive dose-response relation, but it didn’t reach statistical significance.

The authors speculate that, in addition to possible effects on blood pressure, NSAIDs could cause fluctuations in serum potassium, possibly contributing to the observed association.

Adapted from Physician’s First Watch


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