I posted a video on facebook on Sunday, it comes from the American Gastroenterology Association. Funny. I mean, you know, the idea of even watching a video from this group seems to be, well, gassy. But, the video in fact is very valuable.
The discussion was regarding the gastro-intestinal issues that come from long term use of NSAID’s, such as naproxen or aspirin. My immediate first response, was to google the primary speaker in the video, Byron Cryer MD. He has a good history of education, Bachelor’s at Harvard, Medical School at Baylor. Faculty in gastroenterology at University of Texas Southwestern. I decided that he at least would have some credibility.
The direction of the discussion went beyond the basic side effects of NSAID use of stomach discomfort, intestinal discomfort, etc. And, in turn the brief discussion touched on stomach ulcers, and ultimately perforation, which can both be deadly. I had a nurse who was a patient of mine for a few months in my Roswell office back in 2003. She had required a transfusion after taking a migraine med that had similar side effects, and led to intestinal bleeding in her. I bring up her example, because she laid in bed for three days due to significant fatigue, due to her bleeding from her ulcers. Had she not been around other medical professionals who were checking on her, and who eventually urged her to the hospital… she would have likely died in her sleep at some point from bleeding out in her home. The side effects are not only serious, but often disguised.
His faculty counterpart who was also in this sort film, Dr. Stuart Spechler, brings up the associated heart disease risk of NSAIDs…
“Aspirin has been shown to protect the heart… other NSAID’s may increase your risk of developing a heart attack…”
Something that we at HealthSprout have preached about for years. Citing many different studies on increased risks of all anti-inflammatory drugs, not specifically the NSAID group. Dr. Mercola has an article on this topic, in which he points out that the common “switch” that MD’s might prescribe to lower heart disease risk, has also been in a bit of a troubled state over its own heart disease risk:
Cox 2 Inhibitors. Vioxx – remember that one? 144,000 people sued, 60,000 deaths were listed as direct causal relationship, and the others as indirect. What a disaster that drug was. And still today the number of users on Celebrex hasn’t really diminished, yet it is a very similar medication.
And what is the cost of this mess? Well, according to Dr. Mercola’s article:
Stomach upset, nausea, and vomiting are among the most common side effects, but numerous studies have linked NSAIDs to far more adverse effects, including death.2 According to a 1998 study published in the American Journal of Medicine:3
“Conservative calculations estimate that approximately 107,000 patients are hospitalized annually for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)-related gastrointestinal (GI) complications and at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients alone. The figures of all NSAID users would be overwhelming, yet the scope of this problem is generally under-appreciated.”
The real problem when we pull back and consider what is happening here, starts with the philosophical bend of our culture. ”I want to be symptom free” ”I don’t care about optimal health, I want to be symptom free”.
Nobody ever verbalizes line one or two, they verbalize “I want to be healthier”. But without having a philosophy of what that really means, they simply take option 1, symptom free please, and assume that it means health.
Just like many of you, when you start feeling better, you commonly associate that with “your spine is fixed”. Ha! It takes a 40% loss of function to feel the problem, and commonly if it has been around for some time, 50-60% loss has happened, which is why it sometimes takes a long time to feel better, why it sometime takes a long time for our efforts to not hurt you, and why even when it all stops hurting, it is likely that you are no better than 60% of full function. The pursuit of health is a journey, get on board and stay awhile.
Thanks for concern over health and well being, I think we will all agree one day that it is worth it. In the meantime, stay focused on the Christmas in July event… if you have a spouse or child, who has never been checked out, this is your time. Just because you had enough sense to take symptom seriously, doesn’t mean that sense should be thrown out the window on someone without any symptoms yet.
Be well and Be blessed! - Dr. E