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In 1971, Vane showed that the analgesic action of traditional NSAIDs relies on inhibition of the cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzyme, which in turn results in reduced synthesis of proalgesic prostaglandins. Two decades later COX was shown to exist as two distinct isoforms. The constitutive isoform COX-1, supports the beneficial homeostatic functions whereas the inducible isoform, COX-2 becomes up regulated by inflammatory mediators and its products cause many of the symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Despite the benefits of NSAIDs for acute and chronic pain one of the most clinically significant and well characterized adverse effect is on GI mucosa. The search for NSAIDs with less gastrointestinal toxicity led to the introduction of the selective cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors. The COX-2 selective (COX-1 sparing) inhibitors are associated with reduced GI mucosal damage as demonstrated in several trials. In light of the overwhelming and sometimes contradictory information for patients and physicians regarding the safety of COX-2 agents this article will summarize the available evidence regarding cardiovascular (CV) safety data and contemporary recommendations for prescribing of COX-2-selective NSAIDs.


M Khan, A Fraser. Cox-2 inhibitors and the risk of cardiovascular thrombotic events. Irish medical journal. 2012 Apr;105(4):119-21

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PMID: 22708229

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