Do's and Don't's of Taking Aspirin for Your Heart - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/14/03

Do's and Don't's of Taking Aspirin for Your Heart

Doctors have been prescribing aspirin for heart patients since the mid-eighties because studies showed a daily dose of the popular pain reliever could prevent the blood from clotting. But now researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have put a kink in that theory saying aspirin doesn't always protect people, especially patients with high cholesterol, and the problem is there's really no way to measure if this therapy is working.

"When it comes to blood pressure, we measure blood pressure and we know if the blood pressure is too high we have ways to control it. Same with diabetes sugar levels, same with cholesterol. But with aspirin we don't typically know whether or not it's working, we just assume it's working," says Dr. Mike Miller, a Cardiologist.

The researchers looked at 125 patients taking aspirin daily and they found the adult aspirin produces more blood thinning results than baby and or coated aspirin. The study also found that age and gender play a role in a person's response to aspirin - and that aspirin is less effective at thinning blood in older patients, but more effective in women than men.

So, the bottom line that even though studies continue to show that aspirin can reduce the risk of stroke. It is still unclear how much and what kind of aspirin a person needs that it varies by individual. A good reason to discuss this with your doctor instead of just taking an aspirin a day on your own.

A stroke occurs when blood circulation to the brain is interrupted. Ischemic stroke, the most common type, occurs when an artery narrows or a blood clot blocks blood flow. The goal of aspirin therapy is to thin the blood, reducing the risk of blood clots.

The long term goal of this research, according to the lead author of the study Dr. Mark Alberts, is to determine if we can better tailor the type and strength of aspirin to maximize its effects as a clot busting agent. However, if you are taking prescribed baby or coated aspirin you should not switch to adult uncoated aspirin without consulting your doctor first.

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