A common prescription by doctors for patients at risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke is to prescribe a daily baby aspirin as a preventative measure. Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is part of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NAIDs) class and exerts potent analgesic (pain killing), antipyretic (fever reducing), anti-inflammatory effects.
ASA also has antiplatelet effects, inhibiting the production of thromboxane and thus preventing the build-up of ‘patches’ over damaged arterial walls. If these platelet/thromboxane patches become too large, they can alter or block blood flow and increase your risk of heart attach or stroke.
Most patients with poor cardiovascular health are therefore given low-dose aspirin as prevention in the long-term. Is this the best approach? A new study questions the efficacy of using low-dose aspirin for prevention.
The prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association followed 14,000 patients between the ages of 60-85 years old for over two years comparing the outcomes of those patients who took a daily ASA tablet versus those who did not. The results were very surprising! The trial showed no benefit of low-dose, once-daily aspirin in the primary prevention of cardiovascular events in patients with multiple risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia.
That’s right, even in patients who were at greater risk of cardiovascular events due the presence of multiple risk factors, did NOT experience any benefits.
The problem with taking ASA in the long-term are the myriad of negative side effects it causes. NSAIDs are known to cause ulcers, intestinal hyper-permeability (leaky gut), liver damage, kidney damage, inhibit cartilage formation, and lead to much greater risk of complications that lead to trips to the emergency room. Not good.
Therefore, if your daily ASA tablet is NOT reducing your risk of heart attach or stroke (based on the new literature) and it DOES cause some serious health problems, you should have a serious conversation with your doctor about alternative approaches. Natural blood thinners like fish oils are a good place to start, as well as assessing your levels of inflammation and controlling poor blood sugar and insulin function.
True prevention is addressing “why” your condition happened in the first place; not alleviating the “smoke” or symptoms, but addressing the “fire” or root cause. Take a pro-active role in your health and talk to your doctor, naturopath, or health practitioner today. The science says it’s in your best interest.
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS