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Patients who take low dose aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack or strokes must use the right pain reliever. A new study in America (1) shows that taking ibuprofen, the main constituent in many over the counter pain relievers and arthritis treatments, takes away the protective effects of low dose aspirin, leaving the patient at risk and effectively untreated for their vascular condition.

Just a single daily dose of ibuprofen can be sufficient to completely block the anticoagulation effects of aspirin. Paracetamol has no such blocking action and can be used for pain relief without affecting the protective effects of low dose aspirin used in the prevention of heart disease and stroke.

It is important for all patients using low dose aspirin to be aware of this when either self-medicating with pain relievers, or receiving a prescription for pain relief.

It is clearly important for doctors, nurses and pharmacists to be aware when prescribing or advising patients.

Reference:

1 New England Journal of Medicine; Dec 20, 2001; 345(25); 1809-17.