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Aspirin – How could something so cheap be good for you?

aspirinOne of the least mentioned, but most effective drugs out there is plain ol’ aspirin.  It’s rarely mentioned as a first-line defense against cardiovascular disease because…quite frankly…none of the drug companies make a dime from it anymore.  It’s generic and dirt cheap.  But don’t let the cost fool you.  Check out the following summary from my own literature search of publications on the beneficial effects of aspirin.

The Antithrombotic Trialists’ (ATT) Collaboration compiled the results of 6 studies in order to report the benefits and risks of low-dose aspirin to prevent serious vascular events such as myocardial infarction, stroke, or vascular death).  Altogether, they studied 95,000 people.   They found that taking low-dose aspirin decreases your risk of serious vascular event by 12% per year.(1)

Now the flip side to that is that aspirin can increase your risk of bleeding (gastrointestinal, extracranial).  This is something that should be taken into consideration. (1)

Overall, the study found that “in primary prevention without previous disease, aspirin is of uncertain value as the reduction in occlusive events needs to be weighed against any increase in major bleeds.”(1)

So, you may be asking yourself…
How much do I take? 81mg (baby aspirin) once a day.
At what age do I begin taking it? This is a mixed answer, because the risk of cardiovascular disease is different in men and women.
Are there certain medical conditions that would prevent me from taking it?
Yes. Some folks are allergic to aspirin, so this should be avoided in these folks. Next, there are certain conditions, such as stomach ulcers, that may preclude a patient from taking it.   If you have any of these conditions, please consult your primary doctor for his ok.

References:

1.      Baigent, C., et al. Aspirin in the primary and secondary prevention of vascular disease: collaborative meta-analysis of individual participant data from randomised trials. Lancet, 2009 30;373(9678):1849-60.



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