Say Goodbye To Aspirin?

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Baby aspirin (credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

Baby aspirin (credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

Dr. Dave Hnida By Dr. Dave Hnida
CBSDenver.com Blogger
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81mg doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big number in the controversy over taking a preventative aspirin each day.

Many docs say almost every adult should be taking a baby aspirin each day to “thin the blood” and lower the risk of a blood clot forming in a heart artery — and causing a heart attack.

But the FDA says “not so fast” when it comes to popping a preventative pill — even a mini one.

The agency analyzed 12 major studies on the effects of aspirin, and say there is much risk as there is benefit to taking a baby aspirin each day.

The major risk is stomach bleeding, since aspirin is basically a pill form of an acid compound. And if you have a daily alcoholic drink or three each day, you risk of a bleed is even higher. The second concern from aspirin is a higher risk of a hemorrhagic — or bleeding — stroke from having the blood thinned out.

Now as for the American Heart Association, they are on board the 81mg train, but only in high risk patients. Meaning people who have multiple risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol should consider a daily aspirin.

And aspirin is almost a “must” in people who have had a heart attack already.

All in all: Tough call, since both groups are right. Aspirin does save lives, but it may come with a cost.

As for me, I take a baby aspirin each day and have been for years. And my so-called risk factors are low.

So I’m still going to pop a mini pill each day. But that doesn’t mean you should. Or if you already do, it doesn’t mean you should stop immediately.

So what’s the answer to all this: the same old advice, but smart advice — Ask your doctor: Is aspirin right for me?

One final note, out of those 12 studies the FDA looked at, all showed regular exercise and a low fat diet lowered heart attack risk better than a baby aspirin, so if you’re not taking care of yourself no pill is going to save you.

@drdave_hnida

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