Millions of osteoarthritis patients are a nearly quarter more likely to develop heart disease because of their painkillers, a study suggests.
Evidence already exists that shows a link between non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and the world's leading killer.
But the new research, branded 'important', is the one of first to pinpoint the drugs as a cause of heart disease in osteoarthritis patients.
Canadian researchers found osteoarthritis patients who take NSAIDS, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have a 23 per cent higher risk of heart disease.
Evidence already exists that shows a link between non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and the world's leading killer
More than eight million people in the UK and 30 million in the US have osteoarthritis - when the cartilage gradually becomes thin.
Treatment to combat the agonising condition revolves around NSAIDs, which can come in prescription forms or be bought over-the-counter.
Their heart dangers have repeatedly been highlighted in recent years - and the new University of British Columbia study adds to the catalogue.
Professor Aslam Anis, who led the study, said: 'Our results indicate osteoarthritis is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
'This is highly relevant because NSAIDs are some of the most commonly used drugs to manage pain in patients with osteoarthritis.'
He added that the trial also suggests a 'substantial proportion of the increased risk is due to the use of NSAIDs'.
Professor Thomas Dörner, chair of the European League Against Rheumatism - an organisation aimed at fighting the condition, welcomed the findings.
He said 'this study is important' because it provides 'information about the potential causal role of NSAIDs' in terms of heart risks for arthritis patients.
The researchers examined data from nearly 31,000 participants - a quarter of which had osteoarthritis - to make the