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Daily Aspirin Therapy Benefits and Risks

The benefits of taking an aspirin every day are often the topic of conversation. But how does aspirin help us?

HEART ATTACKS AND STROKES: Aspirin breaks apart the clumps of blood platelets (or clots) that may form in arteries. When arteries are too narrow, blood clots can create blockages and stop the flow of blood to the brain or heart. This is how aspirin helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

COLORECTAL CANCER: Certain types of colorectal tumors are positive for Cox-2 enzymes. Aspirin has a negative effect on Cox-2 enzymes and may be responsible for a lower death rate in colorectal cancer patients who had aspirin therapy.

STARTING ASPIRIN THERAPY: There are several risk factors that indicate whether aspirin therapy may be recommended by a doctor. These include: hypertension, smoking, high total cholesterol, high bad cholesterol, and family history of a stroke or heart attack. Lesser known risk factors include diabetes, lack of exercise, stress, and heavy drinking.

COATED ASPIRIN may be taken to ensure that the pill passes into the intestines before it disintegrates. This may not relieve the stomach and intestines from bleeding.

SUPER ASPIRIN: (COX INHIBITORS) There is now a class of drugs is called “super aspirin.” These are known as and Cox-2 Inhibitors. Cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) is an enzyme that is essential for creating inflammation. So the “super aspirin” or Cox-2 inhibitors reduce inflammation.

COX INHIBITORS, however, may or may not be a complete replacement for aspirin because they do not completely duplicate the effects of aspirin. They offer more hope as supplements, or replacements only in situations where an individual cannot take aspirin.

DOSAGES: High dosage (or regular aspirin) is 325 mg. Low dosage (or baby aspirin) is 75 mg.

In summary, aspirin has reliable and beneficial effects in breaking up normal clots of blood platelets, and thus reducing the chances of heart attacks, strokes, and other vascular issues that stem from normal blood clotting. Daily doses of aspirin are generally recommended for individuals who have higher risk factors for stroke and heart attack, but should be taken only after consultation and as directed by a doctor.

RISKS AND CAUTIONS:

First, no one should start aspirin therapy without first consulting with a physician.

Asthma, bleeding or clotting disorders, stomach ulcers and heart failure are reasons why a person should not take daily aspirin therapy.

Other medications may change the effects of aspirin. If the person is already taking blood thinners, aspirin may cause additional bleeding problems and must be under a doctor’s monitoring. Ibuprofen can cancel the effects of aspirin if not taken in a timely manner. In general, consulting with a pharmacist is highly recommended when any medications are being taken.

There are two types of strokes: bleeding strokes (Hemorrhagic) and clot related strokes. Aspirin may increase the chances of a bleeding stroke.

Aspirin must not be taken when an actual stroke is suspected. The stroke may be a bleeding stroke, and aspirin may aggravate the bleeding.

Aspirin IS recommended by doctors for heart attack, unless there is a bleeding disorder or the person has allergies to aspirin.

Stomach ulcers may be caused or aggravated by daily doses of aspirin. If stomach bleeding occurs, this can be life threatening.

Some people are allergic to aspirin. Some allergic reactions can be serious.

Aspirin can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and possible hearing loss.

Failure to discuss any aspirin therapy before dental or surgical procedures may result in excessive bleeding.

Drinking alcohol can result in increased blood thinning and stomach distress.

STOPPING ASPIRIN THERAPY: It is possible that being on, then stopping aspirin therapy may create a “rebound” effect where blood clots are more likely to form than before the therapy was started.

SUMMARY: Aspirin is a low cost miracle drug which provides many life enhancing benefits. But a doctor should be consulted before starting daily aspirin therapy since aspirin is not for everyone.

CITATIONS:

“Aspirin May Stem Deaths From Colorectal Cancers” Yahoohealth.com

“Aspirin Use and Survival After Diagnosis Of Colorectal Cancer” Abstract, JAMA, August 12, 2009.

“Superaspirin Definition” Medicinenet.com

“Daily Aspirin Therapy: Understanding The Benefits And Risks” Mayoclinic.com