Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: adverse effects and their prevention

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244 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: To discuss nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), their history, development, mode of action, toxicities, strategies for the prevention of toxicity, and future developments.

Methods: Medline search for articles published up to 2007, using the keywords acetylsalicylic acid, aspirin, NSAIDs, cyclooxygenase 2, adverse effects, ulcer, and cardiovascular.

Results: NSAIDs are 1 of the oldest, most successful drugs known to modern medicine. They are effective for alleviating pain, fever, and inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. Aspirin, by its irreversible inhibition of blood platelet function, is also effective in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. NSAIDs may cause gastrointestinal ulcers, serious cardiovascular events, hypertension, acute renal failure, and worsening of preexisting heart failure. These adverse effects may be prevented by limiting NSAID dosage and duration and by performing individual risk assessments and treating patients accordingly. Those at risk for gastroduodenal ulcers may be treated with concomitant proton-pump inhibitors, misoprostol and/or COX-2 selective NSAIDs. Those at risk for cardiovascular events may be treated with naproxen and a proton-pump inhibitor or misoprostol, but should best avoid NSAID use altogether.

Conclusions: Physicians should always prescribe the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time and must take into account both the gastrointestinal and the cardiovascular risks of individual patients when prescribing NSAIDs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-312
JournalSeminars in arthritis and rheumatism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Toxicity
  • NSAIDs
  • Review
  • History
  • Prevention


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