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J Clin Pharm Ther. 2017 Feb;42(1):27-38. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12484. Epub 2016 Dec 26.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced cardiovascular adverse events: a meta-analysis.

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Gatton College of Pharmacy, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, USA.
Quillen College of Medicine Library, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, USA.
Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, USA.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Gatton College of Pharmacy, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, USA.



Although non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been studied in randomized, controlled trials and meta-analyses in an effort to determine their cardiovascular (CV) risks, no consensus has been reached. These studies continue to raise questions, including whether cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) selectivity plays a role in conferring CV risk. We performed a meta-analysis of current literature to determine whether COX-2 selectivity leads to an increased CV risk.


We utilized randomized, controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. We selected eight NSAIDs based on popularity and COX selectivity and conducted a search of the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases. Primary endpoints included any myocardial infarction (MI), any stroke, CV death, and a combination of all three (composite CV outcomes). Twenty-six studies were found that met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Comparisons were made between all included drugs, against placebo, and against non-selective NSAIDs (nsNSAIDs). Drugs were also compared against COX-2 selective inhibitors (COXIBs) with and without inclusion of rofecoxib.


Incidence of MI was increased by rofecoxib in all comparison categories [all NSAIDs (OR: 1·811, 95% CI: 1·379-2·378), placebo (OR: 1·655: 95% CI: 1·029-2·661), nsNSAIDs (OR: 2·155, 95% CI: 1·146-4·053), and COXIBs (OR: 1·800, 95% CI: 1·217-2·662)], but was decreased by celecoxib and naproxen in the COXIB comparison [(OR: 0·583, 95% CI: 0·396-0·857) and (OR: 0·609, 95% CI: 0·375-0·989, respectively]. Incidence of stroke was increased by rofecoxib in comparisons with all NSAIDs and other COXIBs [(OR: 1·488, 95% CI: 1·027-2·155) and (OR: 1·933, 95% CI: 1·052-3·549), respectively]. Incidence of stroke was decreased by celecoxib when compared with all NSAIDs, nsNSAIDs, and COXIBs [(OR: 0·603, 95% CI: 0·410-0·887), (OR: 0·517, 95% CI: 0·287-0·929), and (OR: 0·509, 95% CI: 0·280-0·925), respectively]. No NSAID reached statistical significance in regard to CV death. Incidence of the composite endpoint was increased by rofecoxib when compared against all NSAIDs, placebo, and other COXIBs [(OR: 1·612, 95% CI: 1·313-1·981), (OR: 1·572, 95% CI: 1·123-2·201) and (OR: 1·838, 95% CI: 1·323-2·554), respectively]. Incidence of composite endpoint was decreased by celecoxib in the all NSAIDs and COXIBs comparisons [(OR: 0·805, 95% CI: 0·658-0·986) and (OR: 0·557, 95% CI: 0.404-0.767), respectively]. When rofecoxib was removed from the COXIBs group, no difference was found with any comparison, suggesting rofecoxib skewed the data.


This instead of the meta-analysis suggests that COX-2 selectivity may not play a role in the CV risk of NSAIDs. Rofecoxib was the only drug to demonstrate harm and skewed the data of the COX-2 selective group.


COX-2-selective inhibitors; celecoxib; diclofenac; meta-analysis; myocardial infarction; naproxen; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; rofecoxib; stroke

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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