Doctors devise a customized treatment plan when a patient is diagnosed with a cardiac ailment. Typically, treatment for heart diseases includes a combination of medicines, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, surgery.
One of the most commonly prescribed medicines for heart-related ailments is aspirin. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the use of aspirin for heart disease and analyze its pros and cons. Let’s get started.
What Is Aspirin?
Aspirin is one of the most widely used over-the-counter drugs in the world. It comes in several forms, but the most common way to take it is as a pill. It belongs to a specific class of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Besides being an effective anti-inflammatory medication and pain reliever, aspirin has anticoagulant properties. That means it can help prevent heart disease and stroke when taken regularly over time.
Aspirin works by preventing blood clots from forming in blood vessels through its effects on platelets, which are cells that help blood clot. There is some controversy about whether or not you should take aspirin to prevent heart disease, given its potential side effects (such as stomach ulcers and bleeding).
But if your physician recommends it as part of your overall treatment plan, it may be worth considering.
How Aspirin Helps Prevent Heart Attacks, Strokes, and Death
Aspirin’s ability to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular death stems from its effects on several pathways in the body. The drug helps to prevent blood clots by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX).
COX is responsible for producing prostaglandins, which cause inflammation and pain. By reducing the production of these substances, aspirin also lowers blood pressure and reduces inflammation in the body.
Additionally, aspirin is an antiplatelet drug that helps prevent blood clotting by preventing platelets from sticking together. That means taking aspirin regularly can help keep your heart healthy by reducing the chances of a stroke or heart attack caused by a blood clot forming inside your arteries or veins.
Aspirin Use for Primary Prevention
Aspirin can be used to minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease in at-risk patients. This is known as primary prevention. According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Institute, a low dose (75 to 100 mg/day) of aspirin can help with the primary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases among at-risk adults in the age group of 40 to 70 years. However, if you have a bleeding disorder, aspirin may not be the best fit for you.
Aspirin Use for Secondary Prevention
Besides protecting at-risk patients, aspirin can also be given to patients who’ve suffered a heart attack or stroke, received a coronary angioplasty, or undergone a coronary bypass. The anticoagulant properties of aspirin help minimize the risk of cardiovascular events in the future. This is known as secondary prevention.
Risks Associated With Taking Aspirin
The most common side effects of aspirin are related to the stomach and intestines. Prolonged use can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers. That, in turn, can cause abdominal cramping, pain, and indigestion.
Should You Take Aspirin to Prevent Heart Disease?
Your doctor is in the best position to decide whether you should take aspirin for your cardiac health. You’ll benefit from taking aspirin if you have a history of heart attacks or strokes. However, you should consult your doctor for the proper dosage and duration of treatment.
Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor. Aspirin is classified as Pregnancy Category B by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means it is safe for use during pregnancy in animal studies and causes in humans. However, data are limited, so consult with your doctor before taking aspirin while pregnant.
It’s worth noting that aspirin is a blood thinner and can cause bleeding and bruising. You shouldn’t take it with other blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, clopidogrel (Plavix), theophylline (Theo-Dur), or dipyridamole (Persantine).
Aspirin you should avoid aspirin if you have the following:
A bleeding disorder or are taking other medications that increase your risk of bleeding
Ulcers on your stomach or duodenum
If you have been diagnosed with heart failure or other cardiac ailments, your doctor may recommend aspirin therapy to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. It’s an anticoagulant that prevents the formation of blood clots. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the potential risks and side effects.
Dr. C Raghu is an accomplished cardiologist who’s been practicing for decades. If you have concerns about taking aspirin for heart disease, feel free to consult Dr. Raghu today.
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Aspirin for the Prevention of Heart Disease – Blog