Healthwatch: A Closer Look at Aleve

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Some researchers in a study said they found Aleve could increase the risk of heart attacks or strokes. But others say the results are not conclusive.

The study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health over three years and involved 2500 people. It was suspended after researchers said preliminary results indicate naproxen, commonly known as "Aleve," could increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Aleve is a popular over the counter pain reliever that has been sold for 28 years. Advertised as long-lasting relief for everything from arthritis to the common cold, it is also the latest drug called into question for potentially causing harm. ABC News' medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, is urging caution.

"Let's hold tight before we write off Aleve. We may find that the results are not applicable to the general population. We are really flying blind here now until we get results," Johnson said.

The new study, designed to test whether Aleve reduces the risk of Alzheimer's, found that the medicine could increase other risks. Those taking Aleve had a fifty percent greater incidence of heart attack or stroke than those taking a placebo.

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration call the study confusing, and inconclusive. NIH officials say only further tests will determine whether Aleve is actually dangerous. What should patients do now?

Dr. John Breitner is the study's principal investigator: "They should probably be a little more concerned today and their doctors should be a little more concerned today than they were, for example, yesterday because we have new information," said Breitner.

The FDA is urging consumers to follow label guidelines. Don't use Aleve for more than ten days in a row, and don't take more than three pills in any given 24-hour period.