My friend told me about recent news headlines informing us that ibuprofen is linked to an increased link in heart attacks. With suspicion and cynicism, I raised an eyebrow and thought “whatever”. With everything, I turned to Google and typed in “ibuprofen causes heart attacks” and I found the NHS commentary on the subject. As you can see, this page is dated 10th May 2017. These headlines have been re-awoken three-four months after this article was first published (or last edited).
Well, I don’t believe much that the newspapers publish. I think that 99% of all things written in the newspapers are only good enough to be used as toilet paper. It’s not very often that you read well balanced, unbiased information. People who know me offline and know my opinion on media outlets such as Sky News and The Mirror might understand my shock at the NHS claiming that these sources were accurate and balanced (in the May 2017 version of events).
In this example (that ibuprofen causes heart attacks), there has been some scare mongering / fear instilling headlines – misleading the readers. I think the people on websites such as Reddit might refer to these headlines as “click bait”. According to the NHS page (linked above) “common painkillers may raise risk of heart attack by 100%” is actually referring to a painkiller that hasn’t even been available in the UK for the last 13 years!! The first question that should be asked about this article is how are they allowed to put articles like this out in public circulation when it is clearly false news…???
So, the discussion the other evening was: “have you seen the headline that ibuprofen causes heart attacks?” which led to me reading the NHS page… The following morning, my friend (the same one as the evening before) was giving me a lift and he asked “how many people do you think are clogging up GP surgeries this morning because of the newspapers yesterday?”
I think that was a rather thought provoking question to ask. All of those people regularly taking NSAIDs – how many of them are genuinely concerned for their health now that they have read these newspaper reports?
I tend not to listen to much that the news is reporting. I would far rather do my own research, especially when it comes to my health. If ibuprofen is so dangerous, it wouldn’t be available to buy for less than 50p in the supermarkets without a prescription and a doctor scrutinising whether it is safe for use in individual patients.
I have been doing some reading on the subject and I am struggling to find any concrete information which shows us any information about the people in the studies which have led to the conclusion that NSAIDs lead to the increased risk of heart attack. Did everyone in the study have a heart attack? How many of the people who had a heart attack had an underlying heart condition? How many people in the study had underlying conditions which could have led to having a heart attack?
I think people sometimes laugh at me when I laugh at the newspapers. I don’t read a newspaper. As far as I am concerned, their only use is as emergency toilet paper. But, with some of the stuff that I read in the papers, the only thing I can do is raise an eyebrow and laugh. When I do read a paper, I rarely finish an article because I wonder what kind of a reaction the author is trying to achieve. Are they deliberately trying to instil fear or even hatred?
When my friend asked the question about how many people were clogging up their GP surgeries because of the newspapers, I wondered whether he had a point or not – and I suspect that GPs might have seen an increase of patients wanting to discuss their NSAID medication because they fear that they are now at an increased risk of a heart attack. I suppose that the newspapers are only trying to convey the news, but when the Guardian is deliberately writing misleading headlines and referring to a drug that hasn’t been available for the last 13 years, I have to wonder if the media is trying to destroy the NHS? What a better way to put the NHS under pressure than to publish headlines (which people might not follow up and read the entire story) and have a load of vulnerable patients turn up at their surgeries to discuss a drug that they are probably safe to continue using! Surely, those on long-term painkillers are often the people who regularly see a doctor, who would also be keeping an eye on an up-to-date clinical picture and then would be able to advise on pain relief usage accordingly?
(Now they say that low-fat diets are killing us quicker…)