By- Joan Marie Pellegrini
Aspirin has been around for over 100 years and was originally used as a pain-reliever. It works by reducing plateletsâ€™ ability to clump and cause clots. Platelets tend to want to clot when the arteries are damaged by trauma (an injury that causes bleeding) or by atherosclerosis (hardening of the artery that is caused by plaque deposits). There are about 40 yearsâ€™ worth of data that show that men who have heart disease can reduce their risk of another heart attack by taking a daily aspirin. The most recent studies are looking more closely at just exactly who benefits and which dose is best (low-dose is typically the 81 mg found in a baby aspirin and the regular dose is 325 mg).
Current recommendations are for women over age 60 and men over age 45 to start low dose aspirin on a daily basis. Anyone younger who is at increased risk of heart disease or stroke should also start aspirin therapy. Healthy women under age 45 and men under age 40 will likely have no benefit. You should certainly not start aspirin therapy without first consulting your physician. From the FDA: Some medical conditions, such as pregnancy, high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, asthma, stomach ulcers, and liver and kidney disease, could make aspirin a bad choice for you. Aspirin is also a drug that can mix badly with other medicines (prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, herbals, or dietary supplements. People who are already using a prescribed medicine to thin the blood should talk to a health professional before using aspirin, even occasionally. It's important to discuss the use of all medicines, vitamins and dietary supplements with your health professional before using aspirin daily. Aspirin can certainly increase your risk of bleeding from stomach ulcers and having a hemorrhagic stroke. It is these adverse effects that are the reason why you must first discuss the wisdom of starting aspirin with your healthcare provider.
You may have seen the magazine and television ads for Plavix. This is often referred to as â€śsuper aspirinâ€ť. Plavix also prevents platelet clumping but has a different mechanism of action. It is not necessarily more effective than its much less expensive cousin, aspirin. In some cases, Plavix can be more dangerous than aspirin.
If you would like to calculate your risk of heart disease, I have provided a link the Mayo Clinicâ€™s heart disease calculator:
Although aspirin may likely reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, it is more important that you address your other risk factors such as: smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, â€śbadâ€ť cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, and stress.
The vast majority of people taking aspirin are doing it for the cardiovascular effects. However, low dose aspirin has also been shown to reduce the incidence of colon polyps and thus your risk of colon cancer. Aspirin in combination with calcium may be even more beneficial for colon health.
Should You Be Taking An Aspirin A Day?
By- Joan Marie Pellegrini
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