News: Low-dose aspirin safe for heart protection -
17 Feb 2008
Aspirin is one of the best ways to prevent heart attack and manage heart disease. Newer researches, however, give evidence that low-dose aspirin is safer and better tolerated than higher doses.
One of these studies showed that taking more than 100 mg of aspirin a day increases the risk of bleeding — from nose bleeds to bleeding in the stomach and the brain.
The study found that serious bleeding occurs in five percent of heart disease patients taking 200 mg or more aspirin daily, but only one percent of heart disease patients taking the lower dose of aspirin experience bleeding. Lower doses such as 30 mg have shown to have excellent tolerability.
Although the study does not address how well different doses of aspirin prevent heart attacks, Dr. Victor Serebruany, a medical researcher at HeartDrug Research in Towson, Maryland, said, “I think it is very probable that low-dose aspirin is as effective as higher doses to prevent second heart attacks.”
Serebruany and his colleagues analyzed data from 31 published studies that included information from 200,000 heart disease patients who were on daily aspirin therapy ranging from 30 mg to 1,300 mg daily.
Commenting on the results of the study, Dr. Robert Bonow of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, said, “I think it’s fairly clear from these data that low-dose aspirin is probably the best choice for prevention — certainly it is the best choice for (preventing first heart attacks).”
Aspirin helps prevent the formation of clots that block blood flow to the heart to prevent heart attacks. It has been used to prevent heart attack in people at high risk of having one and among those who have already suffered from a first heart attack.
Although aspirin has existed for more than a century, it was only in 1998 when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a rule to provide doctors updated information on the use of aspirin for men and women who have had a heart attack or stroke or are at high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Dr. George Sopko, head of the Interventional Cardiology Scientific Research Group at the National Institutes of Health, discussed the benefits of aspirin for the heart. “Aspirin is a great drug: effective, cheap and relatively safe,” Sopko said. “The drug has been used by just about everybody, so it may not have the appeal of newer drugs, but it can have a huge beneficial impact if used properly. Looking at aspirin’s impact, on heart attack, for example, it may be equal to or better than some drug therapies that cost thousands of dollars.”
According to the US FDA, aspirin is used in the treatment of stroke and transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke).
It is also prescribed to patients with heart attack, had a previous heart attack, have suffered chest pain, and those with complications from heart attack.
It is likewise used to prevent recurrent blockage for those who have had heart bypass surgery or other procedures to clear blocked arteries.
Despite the wonders of aspirin for the heart, not all can have aspirin as their medicine. Dr. Charles Hennekens, chief of preventive medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston cautioned, “Although aspirin is a familiar and readily available drug, people shouldn’t take it for its cardiovascular benefits without discussing the risks of long-term use with a doctor.”
Aspirin’s most common side effect is stomach bleeding. An aspirin that causes less stomach bleeding for patients with heart disease is available in the country. Manufactured by Pascual Laboratories, this heart-shaped tablet has 30 mg aspirin, the lowest dose available in the market today. Patients are advised to consult their doctor for the best medicine for their condition.