Aspirin and Heart Attack Prevention

An aspirin a day could keep the heart attacks at bay … or at least that is what the experts say. Is a daily does of aspirin really an effective tool against heart attacks? The answer is “yes” but it is a conditional “yes” because not everyone can take aspirin. First of all, aspirin should only be considered if you already have had a heart attack or have already been identified by doctors as being at risk for a heart attack.

A doctor’s approval is necessary to follow a daily aspiring therapy because it may not always be safe for everyone. Some people can develop serious side effects by taking a daily aspiring, especially when combining it with other medications, thus the need for caution.

How Aspirin Works

Aspirin interrupts the clotting of the blood. When you are injured, say a scrape or cut, the platelets (the clotting cells) gather at the site. These platelets form a barrier that seals the wound so that the bleeding will stop. This same clotting action occurs elsewhere in the body as well.

If you have atherosclerosis, a narrowing and hardening of the arteries, a blood clot could prove detrimental. This blood clot could block an artery, preventing blood from flowing to the heart or even the brain. The aspirin thins out the clumping platelets a bit to allow them to flow easily through the blood vessels, even the ones narrowed by disease.

There are some slight variations as to how aspirin therapy affects men and women of different ages. For example, in women over the age of 65 and in all men, aspirin can lower the risk of having that first heart attack but it doesn’t help much in women younger than this cut-off age. However, the odds of getting heart disease or experiencing a second heart attack are reduced in both men and women of all ages.

Is Aspirin Right for You?

If you exhibit several risk factors for heart attack, you could benefit from aspirin therapy. For instance, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol, hypertension and family history of heart disease are all risk factors. Previous heart attack or stroke, stress, diabetes and excessive alcohol drinking are other indicators that aspirin might help you.

A few conditions do exist when an aspirin a day might actually hurt more than help you in your quest to reduce heart disease and heart attack risk. If you have asthma or stomach ulcers, aspirin could exacerbate these conditions.

A blood clotting disorder is an automatic No to aspirin as is the presence of heart failure. Some medications could also interfere with the aspirin so it is important to check with a doctor before starting the aspirin therapy.

There are some side effects to taking aspirin daily such as opening yourself to a hemorrhaging stroke where bleeding in the brain rather than a blood clot is the culprit. Stomach bleeding is possible such as from an ulcer and you may experience ear ringing or hearing loss. Allergic reactions are not unheard of either.

All in all, aspirin does seem to continue to work as a miracle “drug” keeping heart attacks at bay. Just remember to talk with your doctor about it so that your daily aspirin is actually not counterproductive to other health conditions.