If you watch any television at all youíve probably seen the
commercials for Vioxx or Celebrex, two extremely popular arthritis
drugs. Millions of Americans take these drugs to reduce arthritis
and joint pain. These drugs, classified as cyclooxygenase
2 (COX-2) inhibitors, are a second generation of anti-inflammatory
drugs that have gained popularity, in part because they do
not cause digestive problems, unlike their predecessors. However,
new research shows that COX-2 inhibitors may increase your
risk of developing a cardiovascular disease.
The cardiovascular effects of COX-2 inhibitors were evaluated
in a review of multiple studies published in the August 22
edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
This review focused on two major studies in particular, each
with over 8,000 participants: the Vioxx Gastrointestinal Outcomes
Research Study (VIGOR) and the Celecoxib Long-term Arthritis
Safety Study (CLASS). VIGOR showed that Vioxx increased the
risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke,
almost two-and-a-half times. Two other smaller studies also
suggested a relationship between Vioxx and these conditions.
CLASS indicated an increased risk for cardiovascular events
in COX-2 users, but was inconclusive because of minimal data.
If you currently use either of these drugs, itís especially
important to monitor potential adverse changes to your heart.
If possible, find alternative ways to deal with arthritis
pain. Finally, if you have not developed arthritis pain, do
your best to avoid it by maintaining a balanced diet, taking
vitamin supplements, and staying active. Talk to your doctor
about the risks and benefits of any drug before you fill that
Mukherjee D, Nissen SE, Topol EJ. Risk of cardiovascular
events associated with selective COX-2 inhibitors. Journal
of the American Medical Association, August 22/29, 2001:286(8),