The Food and Drug Administration recently strengthened an existing label warning that non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increase the risk for heart attack and stroke. Popular over-the-counter medications including ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) are among the products affected. Taking these regularly for as little as a few weeks can put people’s lives at risk…as could exceeding recommended dosages.

What to do: If you take an NSAID, keep your dose as low as possible and your duration of use as short as possible. People who have a history of heart disease, kidney disease or stroke should be especially careful to limit NSAID use.

Hidden danger: When you take a cold medication or sore throat medication, check the ingredients on the label for NSAIDs. If you see these, avoid extended use and do not take these medications if you also are taking a painkiller that contains any NSAID—the combined dose could put you in danger.

If you must take a painkiller for more than a week or so or if you have a history of stroke, heart problems or kidney issues, speak with your doctor about options other than NSAIDs. Acetaminophen could be a safer choice in certain circumstances, for example. Also, acupuncture and mindfulness meditation can help.