Migraine Drug Cambia Associated with Increased Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Cambia (diclofenac) is a type of pain medication called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) that is FDA approved for treatment of migraine attacks in adults. But research indicates diclofenac is as likely to be associated with a heart attack or stroke, particularly among those with existing cardiovascular risk factors, as an NSAID called Vioxx (rofecoxib) that was removed from the market in 2004 due to safety concerns. By some estimates diclofenac is more likely to be linked to a cardiovascular event.

For migraine patients who cannot safely take triptans or need additional options, Cambia can be an important acute treatment alternative. Cambia is a packet of powder that you mix into a small amount of water and drink. This provides faster relief than could be offered by any pill form of NSAID.

Researchers note there is a perception among some doctors and patients that diclofenac is a stronger pain medication than other NSAIDs, partly, perhaps, because it is by prescription only. The reality is this is not the case. Other, safer NSAIDs, such as over the counter pain medication naproxen, may be able to replicate the results experienced by patients who have been using diclofenac. While naproxen is associated with cardiovascular events just like all NSAIDs, it has the lowest risk of any medication in the category. As is true for diclofenac, naproxen is associated with fewer stomach-related side effects than some NSAIDs. Unfortunately Cambia is the only NSAID that comes in a form more friendly to the migraine stomach and its unique needs (Migraine & Gastroparesis).

So what's the takeaway? Talk to your doctor about your cardiovascular risk factors and decide with your doctor whether Cambia is the right migraine treatment option for you.

While it is undoubtedly scary that the cardiovascular events associated with use of diclofenac can occur with absolutely no warning, we encourage you not to be discouraged or panic. There are many things you can do to reduce your cardiovascular risk factors, and if you and your doctor determine Cambia isn't a good fit for your situation, you can stop taking it.

In addition to Cambia, diclofenac is sold under the brand names Voltaren, Cataflam and Zipsor.

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