Design, setting and participants: Retrospective cohort study of 162 065 Australian veterans with incident dispensing of an NSAID between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2008, using prescription event sequence symmetry analysis.
Results: The absolute risk of stroke was low: 7.1/1000 people/year. Incident use of NSAIDs was associated with a 1.88 times increased risk (95% CI, 1.70–2.08) of hospitalisation for stroke (ischaemic or haemorrhagic) following first ever dispensing of an NSAID. This equates to an increased absolute risk of 13.4 strokes/1000 people/year. Significant positive associations between starting an NSAID and having a hospitalisation for stroke were found for most NSAIDs, with adjusted sequence ratios ranging from 1.44 (95% CI, 1.16–1.80) for indomethacin to 1.80 (95% CI, 1.59–2.04) for rofecoxib.
Conclusions: Incident use of NSAIDs was associated with an increased risk of stroke. Increased awareness of the potential for serious adverse cardiovascular events, together with individual assessment of cardiovascular risk, careful deliberation of the balance between risk and benefits and appropriate supervision, is required when initiating NSAID therapy.
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