What is aspirin?
Aspirin, an over the counter (OTC) common pain reliever and blood thinner is thought to prevent clots, heart attacks and strokes. It has been in our medicine cabinets for more than a century, 1897. It is touted to prevention blood clots, heart attack and/or stroke by slowing down the clotting formation of platelets.
Why/Who should take aspirin?
It is taken to reduce fever, swelling, inflammation, heart attack, stroke, after surgery and in some instances it is thought be prevent cancer.
It’s recommended to people who have had heart attacks, it is thought prevent others is the biggest reason. It’s also recommended for people who have had a stroke or a TIA/transient ischemic attack which usually is indicative of an impending stoke (not all strokes are caused by clots and aspirin could actually make the stoke worse). You should not take aspirin daily without consulting with your doctor. There are certain risks like bleeding in individuals with stomach ulcers, gout, bleeding in the brain, allergic to aspirin, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, heart conditions or circulatory issues. How it is decided on who should take aspirin as well as balance the benefits and the risks can only be decided by a physician. Common dose is 81mg but can be as high as 325mg. Low dose is as effective as the high, so if your doctor recommends a great mg dose- question it! Aspirin is used to reduce fever, relieve middle t moderate pain from conditions such as muscle aches, toothaches, common colds, headaches and pain and swelling associated with- arthritis. Caution is needed when taking aspirin greater than 10 days, if there is sudden hearing loss or ringing in the ears or if your conditions get worse. If for some reason you can’t take aspirin, many doctors automatically make you take Clopidogrel/ Plavix which may prevent a heart attack or a stroke. Do not take aspirin with any anticoagulant prescribed or over the counter because it can cause bleeding. You absolutely cannot drink alcohol… it not only damages the stomach but liver also. Aspirin must be stopped before surgery or any procedure because of the increased risk for bleeding. Key sign you have a problem with aspirin is bloody or black stools. Aspirin increased the likelihood for bruising, but that may also indicate a vitamin deficiency like Vitamin C. If you have a stent in an artery… consult your doctor first.
How should aspirin be taken?
Generally, aspirin can be taken with or without food. The venue of choice is a liquid like, water and it should be a full glass (8oz). Then there are drug interactions… you have to do your research. Aspirin cannot be substituted for NSAIDS, Ibuprofen, naproxen that relieves pain and inflammation. These drugs have a different blood clotting effect and in fact, NSAIDs may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke… acetaminophen is usually substituted for aspirin. Do not combine with caffeine or sodium (salt- NaCl).
Known side effects include: upset stomach, heartburn, easy bruising/bleeding, difficulty hearing, ringing in the ears, change in the amount of urine, persistent or severe nausea/vomiting, unexplained tiredness, dizziness, dark urine, black/tarry stools, sudden loss of vision, blood in the stools, abdominal pain, weakness of one side of the body, and or yellowing eyes/skin… call the doctor immediately, it may be indicative of a medical emergency. Occasionally, very serious allergic reactions occur and include: rash, itching, swelling (esp. face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness or troubled breathing. Not only does your doctor have to justify the risk to benefit, so do you as with any medication, prescribed or over the counter.
Since 2006 the number of US adults taking aspirin regularly had risen/CDC reports (20% increase from 1999-03). This coincides with the increase in victims of cardiovascular rather than aches and pains (AJPM).
• 1/3rd adults
• 4 out of 5 with heart disease or stroke
• 2/3rds of those with diabetes
Be informed before using any medications or over the counter remedies… and choose the LifeStyle path that offers you better and more quality to your life. Your loved ones need you.