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You can prevent heart disease without Aspirin

Harold Mandel's picture
Heart healthy fish and vegetables

In recent years there has been a press hype which has made a daily aspirin appear to be a miracle drug which can prevent cardiovascular disease. The aggressive manners in which aspirin therapy has been suggested makes it out to appear as if taking aspirin is as safe as drinking fresh water. However, there can be dangerous side effects to taking aspirin regularly and therefore caution is suggested when taking this drug.

The Cleveland Clinic writes that aspirin has been used as a pain reliever for over 100 years. Ever since the 1970s aspirin has also been used to prevent and manage heart disease. Aspirin inhibits blood clots. Blood clots are dangerous because they can clog the arteries which lead to the heart, therefore increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Studies have shown aspirin reduces the risk of heart attack and reduces the short-term risk of death among people suffering from heart attacks. Other studies have suggested aspirin reduces the risk of death. Research has shown that regular aspirin reduces the risk of death from all causes, particularly among the elderly, people with heart disease, people with a history of stroke, and people who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Biocience Technology reported on Oct. 24, 2013,"Review Highlights Side Effects of Daily Aspirin Dosage." The most comprehensive review of the benefits and risks of a daily dose of prophylactic aspirin has been published by researchers at Warwick Medical School. These researchers have warned that a greater understanding of side effects of aspirin is needed.

A daily dose of aspirin has been promoted as a primary prevention for people who are currently free of, but who are at risk of developing, cardiovascular disease or colorectal cancer. However, researchers are advising that any such benefit should be carefully balanced alongside a greater understanding of the potentially harmful side effects of taking aspirin, such as bleeding and gastrointestinal problems.

Benefits from taking aspirin have been reported to range from a 10 percent reduction in major cardiovascular events to a 15 percent drop in total coronary heart disease. That ultimately means 33 to 46 fewer deaths per 100,000 patients taking the treatment. Evidence of a reported reduction in incidents of colorectal cancer was also seen, which showed up from approximately five years after the start of the treatment. This would amount to 34 fewer deaths from colorectal cancer per 100,000 patients.

The researchers have also highlighted the adverse effects of aspirin, which were noted with a 37 percent increase in gastrointestinal bleeding. This amounts to an extra 68 to 117 occurrences per 100,000 patients of gastrointestinal bleeding. An increase of between 32 percent and 38 percent of hemorrhagic stroke was seen, or an extra 8-10 occurrences per 100,000 patients.

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Aileen Clarke, professor of Public Health Research and director of Warwick Evidence at Warwick
Medical School, said, “This study looks deeper into the range of research on regular aspirin use than anything before, using more innovative methods, and it makes it clear that there is an incredibly fine balance between the possible benefits and risks of the intervention."

Clarke suggests that we should be very careful about over-promoting aspirin intervention without gaining a full understanding of these negative side effects. Clearly, you should therefore be very cautious about taking daily aspirin. If you do take aspirin daily and experience any side effects you should consult with your physician immediately.

Mayo Clinic
suggests 5 medication-free strategies to help you prevent heart disease:

1. Don't smoke. Don't smoke or use tobacco.
Smoking or using tobacco has been found to be one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. Chemicals which are in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, and lead to narrowing of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can than lead to a heart attack.

2. Exercise for 30 minutes on most days.
Getting some regular, daily exercise can lower your risk of fatal heart disease. When you combine physical activity with other lifestyle measures, such as maintaining a healthy weight, you will generally see an even greater the payoff.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet.
Eating a special diet which is called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan can help you protect your heart. The DASH diet consists of eating foods that are low in fat, cholesterol and salt. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, which can help protect your heart. Eating more fish and less red meat is also suggested.

4. Maintain a healthy weight.
Weight gain in adulthood is mostly fat rather than muscle. This excess weight can lead to conditions which increase your chances of heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

5. Get regular health screenings.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels. However, without testing for them, you probably won't know whether you have these dangerous conditions.

It's a real challenge to commit yourself to a healthy lifestyle. This is a challenge which you should enjoy taking. Learn to cherish your heart and to feel good about taking care of your heart. Your life could depend on it.