Professor ROB GALLOWAY: Why you shouldn’t take aspirin regularly

Rarely do I not give at least one affected person 300 mg of aspirin once a week.

For individuals with acute chest pain and possible coronary heart attack, it can be life-saving.

It helps make the blood much less sticky and dissolves clots in the arteries, allowing oxygen to reach the central muscle tissue.

Aspirin comes in high and low doses and can be purchased at most pharmacies.

There is a high dose of 300 mg to treat a suspected coronary heart attack or as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever; and a daily dose of 75-100 mg taken by individuals to prevent coronary heart attack and stroke.

But as with all drugs, there are dangers.

For individuals with acute chest pain and possible coronary heart attack, aspirin can be a lifesaver. It helps make blood much less sticky and dissolve clots in arteries, allowing oxygen to reach central muscle tissue (file photo)

The distinct disadvantage of aspirin is that it is cheap and widely available, making it easy to self-prescribe.

In fact, tens of millions of apparently healthy people in this country are believed to be using it every day to prevent a coronary heart attack or stroke.

It has been used for centuries in the form of salicylic acid, derived from willow bark, as an anti-inflammatory.

Then in 1899, the pharmaceutical company Bayer purified it and created the medicine we all know as aspirin.

It was originally used to treat arthritis, but a family physician in California discovered its function in stopping coronary heart attacks and strokes in the 1950s, and it was quickly hailed as a wonder drug.

Doctors began recommending that anyone over the age of 55 who feared they were prone to coronary heart attack should take the drug daily as a preventative measure.

Go with the grain

Three servings of whole grains a day could help protect against coronary heart disease, new research suggests.

Here, Ruth Kander, a registered dietitian at London’s Fleet Street Clinic, offers you delicious ways to get your ‘three a day’.

Quinola Puy Lentils and Whole Grain Categorical Quinoa, 250g, £2.35,

Loaded with fiber and protein, the quinoa and Puy lentils right here will keep you satiated. Quinoa is arguably one of the few plant-based proteins that contains all 9 amino acids that are essential for muscle building. Two tablespoons count as one serving of whole grains.

Dr Karg 3 Grain Tri Seed Crispbread, 200g, £2.50,

Made with wholegrain spelt, wheat and oat flour, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and linseed, they pack 5g of fiber – just over 16% of the recommended daily intake – in two crisp rolls, which count as one serving of wholegrain. .

Biona Short Grain Brown Rice, 500g, £2.99,

Short-grain brown rice binds together and becomes creamy as it cooks, making it ideal for risotto. It has almost twice as much fiber as white rice and is an effective source of magnesium, which is necessary for blood circulation. Two tablespoons count as one serving of whole wheat.

Aspirin works by increasing platelets, which play a key role in blood clot formation. But here’s the problem: the best way it actually works may be the best way it can cause injury.

There have been many studies over the years that have heightened warnings about the drug’s side effects, including internal bleeding and stomach ulcers.

Just one week earlier, some information retailers reported on a study that found it could cause anemia (when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells, usually as a result of bleeding) in elderly patients.

Published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, it examined information from more than 19,000 US and Australian residents over the age of 65 who took low-dose aspirin (100 mg) or a dummy pill daily for five years.

The idea was that aspirin would increase life expectancy and reduce the risk of dementia.

The results confirmed that taking aspirin made no difference, but it was dangerous.

As we age, our risk of anemia increases for many reasons: much less iron is absorbed through our intestines, our bone marrow is much less efficient at making pink blood cells, and our kidneys produce much less of the hormone erythropoietin. helps make pink blood cells.

But research confirmed that older people who took aspirin had a 20% higher risk of anemia than those who took a dummy pill.

When the researchers discovered the causes, they found that individuals who took aspirin had decreased iron levels, which was almost certainly associated with additional stomach bleeding.

It wasn’t just a little bleeding; those who took aspirin had a 50% higher rate of catastrophic abdominal bleeding than those who used a pacifier.

So what does this mean for you and me?

For several years in the past I dealt with a man in his 70s. He lived a really full life: he didn’t smoke, ate well and played tennis 3 times a week.

He had watched two of his friends die of coronary heart attacks and tested the benefits of taking low-dose (75 mg) aspirin every day, a dose that should be available at any drugstore.

He went to the emergency room because he felt dizzy. His blood strain was low, and as we tried to determine what was inappropriate, he responded to us by vomiting bright pink blood.

We gave him six units of blood and rushed him to an endoscopy to find out what was wrong.

Bleeding here came from the ulcer and was stopped.

The trigger was almost certainly the aspirin he was taking, but he shouldn’t be. He survived, but he was lucky.

This new study confirms that aspirin can be harmful if used long-term, especially if you are older.

It may not be appropriate for doctors to recommend it as preventive therapy, as they usually do, if you have not had a coronary heart attack or stroke.

In 2022, the US Preventive Services Task Force changed its recommendations for those over 60 and recommended daily aspirin to prevent a primary coronary heart attack or stroke because the benefits did not outweigh the potential risk of internal bleeding. .

(The recommendation is completely different if you’ve had a coronary heart attack or stroke and are trying to prevent one from the other.)

The NHS also says that it is best to only take a low dose of aspirin every day if your doctor recommends it because of the increased risk of coronary heart attack or stroke.

We are also cautious about prescribing long-term aspirin as the 2022 NHS guidance says it should be used with caution in the elderly and in people with anaemia.

What about those who take aspirin because they are selected for coronary heart rhythm deficiency?

My advice is to consult a doctor; there are new drugs that may be more practical than aspirin for this purpose.

How about taking it earlier than the flight to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis?

The answer is an emphatic no. The risk of bleeding at 35,000 feet is too great.

Instead, go for walks together and wear compression socks.

Aspirin is still a drug that people should take at home in emergencies, because if you have severe chest pain, a 300 mg dose can make a big difference to your chances of survival.

But basically, you shouldn’t self-medicate – always focus on this with your doctor first.

Twitter: @drobgalloway

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