One of the most common alleviations for minor aches and pains is ibuprofen, but it may not be as helpful as people thought.

Researchers warned against ibuprofen’s link to a high risk of heart attacks and strokes for quite some time. However, a new study proves that this connection is worse than even doctors and researchers previously warned.

The Danish Study published this month in the European Heart Journal shows consuming non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs increases heart attack risk by 31 percent. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, piroxicam, oxaprozin, naproxen, and more.

Gunnar Gislason, the study’s author, said NSAID users need to know the risk associated with the drugs.

“Allowing these drugs to be purchased without a prescription and without any advice or restrictions sends a message to the public that they must be safe,” he explained. “The findings are a stark reminder that NSAIDs are not harmless.”

In the study, researchers collected medical history of approximately 30,000 cardiac patients. They identified those who suffered from heart attacks from 2000 to 2010 through the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry. Additionally, they located all NSAID prescriptions at Danish pharmacies since 1995. In Denmark, ibuprofen and naproxen over 200mg are only available with prescriptions.

Accordingly, researchers found that people most commonly use ibuprofen and diclofenac as NSAIDs in the U.S. and Denmark. Patients with records of heart attacks use these anti-inflammatories most frequently. The study found that the diclofenac and ibuprofen make up approximately 50 percent and 31 percent of the increased heart attack risk, respectively.

Gislason said the findings prove that all consumers must be cautious about how frequently they use these medications. Consumers should not use NSAIDs if they have cardiovascular disease. If taking ibuprofen, nobody should take more than 1200mg a day. Additionally, he said diclofenac is the “riskiest NSAID” and suggested that people avoid this pain relief drug as much as possible. Instead, he suggests consumers used naproxen, which users can consume up to 500mg a day.

Before taking any medications, individuals should consult their health care providers.

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