For years we have heard about taking a low dose aspirin once a day for prevention of heart attacks. Major aspirin brands have even used this advice to market their medication, but is it really as effective as we’ve been told? If you have already had a heart attack the benefits may outweigh the risks for some people. However, for preventing a first heart attack the FDA now says that daily aspirin is not effective and the risks of serious adverse reaction may be greater than any possible benefit.
Recently the agency issued a statement saying that the evidence now does not appear to support the use of daily aspirin for prevention of heart attacks or strokes, adding, “There are serious risks associated with the use of aspirin including increased risk of bleeding in the stomach and brain.” Bleeding in the brain is called a hemorrhagic stroke, the worst type of stroke, accounting for over 13% of cases. It can also cause intestinal bleeding. Like many drug-treatment related issues in medicine, our understanding of the risks and benefits of daily aspirin evolves over time, but what remains true is that all drugs carry risks, especially with frequent use.
Healthy bodies generally don’t need daily doses of drugs, even over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, especially when the side effects can be dangerous. For relieving the occasional headache or other minor aches and pains, taking an aspirin or two carries minimal risk, but daily or weekly use for any reason can be dangerous even for healthy people. Think about the underlying cause of a problem; is it caused by the lack of aspirin? If not, then daily aspirin is probably not the best solution.
Healthy diet, exercise, and avoiding and reducing stress are all better and safer ways for most people to maintain heart health in addition to gentle drug free treatments like Chiropractic, Acupuncture, and Massage Therapy. If you have specific health conditions that you may have already been prescribed aspirin for, talk to you doctor before changing or stopping your aspirin therapy.
Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center