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Selective COX-2 inhibitors, NSAIDs and cardiovascular events – is celecoxib the safest choice?

Authors Laurence Guy Howes

Published 15 November 2007 Volume 2007:3(5) Pages 831—845

Laurence Guy Howes

Departments of Cardiology, and Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Gold Coast Hospital, Griffith University Medical School, Southport, Queensland, Australia

Abstract: Inhibitors of cyclo-oxogenase (COX) are widely used anti-inflammatory drugs. In recent years concerns have arisen about the cardiovascular safety of these drugs, initially because of reported associations between therapy with the COX-2 selective inhibitor rofecoxib and myocardial infarction. However, subsequent data have suggested an association between therapy with non-selective COX inhibitors (NSAIDs) and serious cardiovascular events. This article reviews the clinical trial and population data linking COX inhibition to cardiovascular events. The data currently available suggests that both specific and non-specific COX inhibitors may increase the risk of serious cardiovascular events, but that the effect varies between the individual drugs. The strongest evidence for an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events is with rofecoxib therapy. Celecoxib therapy may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, but only when used at doses substantially higher than those recommended for the treatment of arthritis. There is a greater body of evidence supporting the relative cardiovascular safety of celecoxib when used at the doses recommended for the treatment of arthritis than for any of the other selective COX-2 inhibitors or NSAIDs.

Keywords: COX-2 inhibitors, NSAIDs, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular disease

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