Which Is Safer: Advil (Ibuprofen) Or Aleve (Naproxen)

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses which over the counter NSAID is safer, Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen).

Question

What is safer, in general, to take: Ibuprofen of Naproxen?

Asked by Dave On May 24, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On May 29, 2018

Two Pills DecisionIbuprofen and Naproxen belong to the same class of drugs, the non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).  NSAIDS are used to treat pain and inflammation.  In general, since Ibuprofen and Naproxen both belong to the same drug class, their safety profiles are considered the same.  This means one cannot be considered more safe than the other.  Some of the safety concerns patients should be aware of when taking NSAIDS, like Ibuprofen or Naproxen, are discussed below.


Cardiovascular Events

NSAIDS are known to increase the risk of a patient experiencing a thrombotic event, such as a myocardial infarct or stroke.  It has been found that even taking one dose of a NSAID increases a patient’s risk for a cardiovascular event. One study looked at the risk among NSAIDS.  In this study, Ibuprofen was found to have a slightly higher risk of causing a cardiovascular event than Naproxen


Increase In Blood Pressure

NSAIDS are also known to cause an increase in blood pressure regardless of which drug is taken.  Taking  one dose of an NSAID was shown to increase blood pressure by 5mmHg.  This is especially significant in patients with known high blood pressure. As with cardiovascular events, the PRECISION study showed that Ibuprofen raised blood pressure slightly more than Naproxen.


Gastrointestinal Events

NSAIDS also cause an increased risk for gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation, ulceration, bleeding and perforation.  Patients with known bleeding disorders, GI disease or ulcers are especially at an increased risk of having an adverse event and should discuss taking these medications with his or her doctor.  


Conclusion

NSAIDS, like Ibuprofen and Naproxen, have known associated risks with them that patients should be aware of.  Some of these risks include an increased likelihood to experience a cardiovascular event like stroke or myocardial infarct, increased blood pressure and increased gastrointestinal bleeding.


Though some studies have reported that Ibuprofen may have a slightly higher risk than Naproxen to cause adverse events, Naproxen cannot be considered a safer drug because the significant risks have still been reported with Naproxen. Patients should use NSAIDS, like Ibuprofen and Naproxen, only when necessary and for the shortest time period as possible.  Patients with chronic health conditions should check with their doctor or other health care provider before taking these drugs.  

About the Pharmacist

Ms. Jennifer Hauder RPh

Jennifer Hauder is a registered pharmacist in the state of Illinois. She has over 10 years experience as a pharmacist in the retail and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) settings. She became a pharmacist due to her interest in healthcare and the opportunity to help others with their healthcare needs. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, three children and two black labs Lucky and Charms.

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