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Think Twice About Aspirin

Confirming other similar results, a study released today reports on the latest efforts to investigate the usefulness of daily aspirin. Set in Japan, the study was well underway when it was curtailed for lack of clear benefit paired with serious risk, namely increased risk of serious bleeding events. The study participants were all of the age that might worry about their heart health (older than 60) but not in the clearly high risk groups: recent heart attacks or blood clotting events. In other words, they were quite similar to the folks I see in the office - a couple a month, probably, who are taking a daily aspirin for their heart.

If you have serious cardiovascular disease (history of heart attack or other blood clotting event), you have probably been advised by your doctor to take an aspirin a day. I think there are other ways to reduce future clotting events, but without knowing those, the aspirin is doing you more harm than good. 

If you have very minor risks of heart disease (slightly elevated blood pressure or LDL cholesterol numbers) and nothing else, you are better off putting the aspirin back in the bottle and taking a walk instead. In the words of the authors of this study, "patients at very low risk of vascular events should not take aspirin for prevention of vascular events, even at low dose." There have been numerous studies finding no benefit from daily aspirin for folks at average to low risk, but there will always be more. I wish I had discretionary power over the budget of yet-another-aspirin-study!

What else can you do to minimize your risk? Stay active, eat plenty of cold-water fish and take fermented cod liver oil, avoid getting diabetes, supplement with magnesium, and keep a normal weight and blood pressure. 



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