aspirin therapy

  1. Heart risk for aspirin quitters

    Despite what you've heard from decades of TV commercials, the last thing your heart needs to help it keep beating is a daily dose of aspirin.

    But if you've already started on the so-called "aspirin therapy," don't stop -- not right away anyway, because a new study finds that quitting could bring on a heart attack.

    Researchers tracked 39,513 patients between 50 and 84 years old who had suffered a heart attack and were taking daily aspirin in the hopes of preventing a second one.

    The researchers found that those who stopped their aspirin therapy were 60 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack over three years than those who kept taking their pills.

    The researchers say the attacks were nonfatal -- but who knows what kind of hidden damage they did inside the heart, or if those second attacks set the stage for a third and possibly fatal event down the road.

    The researchers wrote in BMJ that the risks are "small," but I'd say they're not small enough to provide any degree of lasting comfort. The study found four extra heart attacks per 1,000 aspirin quitters.

    That's good enough for the researchers, who concluded that the benefits still outweigh the risks -- but let's not get carried away here, because there are much safer ways to protect your heart.

    Studies have found that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can not only keep your heart beating -- they can also pull off a few tricks that aspirin can't touch.

    For starters, fish oil can lower your triglycerides, boost good cholesterol, and reduce overall inflammation. It's also great for primary prevention, helping you to avoid that first heart attack. Aspirin, on the other hand, is actually worse. Studies have found almost no benefit to aspirin therapy for patients who've never suffered a heart attack.

    In one study, 3,350 men and women with a high risk of heart disease were given either aspirin or a placebo. Over eight years, there was no difference in heart attack or stroke risk.

    There is one area, however, where aspirin manages to distinguish itself, and it's a doozy: side effects.

    Regular aspirin use for any reason -- especially a daily dose for "therapy" -- can lead to serious and potentially deadly internal bleeding problems.

    Some studies have found that aspirin can increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke -- and a study just a couple of years back found that aspirin therapy causes tiny "microbleeds" in the brains of seniors.

    I don't call that micro anything -- that's maximum risk, especially for a senior.

  2. Aspirin therapy isn't therapeutic

    Aspirin's a questionable choice for occasional pain relief... but it's a really bad option when it comes to heart health.

    Those little pills in medicine cabinets across the nation come with far more risks than most people realize. And as the latest research shows, they don't work very well, either.

    Researchers studied 3,350 men and women at high risk of heart disease. One group was given 100 mg of aspirin per day, and the rest were given a placebo.

    Over an average of more than eight years, there was no difference in heart attacks (fatal and non-fatal), stroke or even revascularization surgery in the two groups. There was also no difference in angina or a form of leg pain linked to peripheral artery disease called claudication.

    In short, the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no benefit from aspirin whatsoever.

    That's perfectly consistent with numerous studies in recent years knocking aspirin therapy... but sometimes, old habits are hard to break, even for doctors (especially if they're the kind paid to advocate aspirin on TV... but that's another story).

    One major analysis of six studies found the potential benefit of aspirin was so small that it was essentially meaningless--and certainly offset by aspirin's famous side effects, like ulcers and internal bleeding problems.

    And that's not all. Aspirin's been around a long time, but we still don't know everything about it--or its problems. We're just learning now that aspirin and other painkillers can cause hearing loss in men.

    A study in the American Journal of Medicine finds that aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen all appeared to increase the risk of hearing loss--especially in men between 45 and 50 years old.

    And yet another study last year found aspirin increases the risk of "microbleeds" in the brains of seniors. And really, any bleeding in the brain at all--no matter how "micro"-- is something you want to avoid.

    The message is there, and it's a pretty clear one... but it's not getting out. Sales of low-dose aspirin marketed for supposed heart benefits are up 12 percent since 2005, with more than 44 million containers sold last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    That's 44 million stunningly bad health decisions.

    One study found that it takes around 2 million aspirin tablets to prevent just one heart attack--but the odds of side effects are much higher. One in 15 aspirin takers experience them, and 1 in 556 will die of aspirin-related complications.

    There's an easy answer to this one, and it's in the volumes and volumes of research that proves that aspirin therapy is both dangerous and ineffective.

  3. Trading aspirin for tomatoes

    Research has shown that Fruitflow, a patented tomato-seed extract, can help smooth platelets and prevent blood clots, making it an effective blood thinner.

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