June 29, 2017

Aspirin- part 1

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

For many years, doctors have been prescribing aspirin therapy as a cheap, effective way to reduce cardiovascular events and improve survival after a heart attack. Neither of these is true.

Chewing two aspirin during a heart attack event has been shown to be very effective in reducing damage to the heart.  You must chew them, and it must be during the event.  That is not what we are talking about here.

Even low dose aspirin therapy has serious side effects that, just like statin drugs for cholesterol, overshadow any supposed benefit. The evidence in support of aspirin has always been weak, and over the last decade it has become even weaker.

The benefit purported by medicine for taking aspirin is that of its antiplatelet activity. They say that it helps save lives by reducing deaths from heart attacks.

Ten years ago, Dr. John G.F. Cleland, a cardiologist from the UK, published a paper in the British Journal of Medicine. He did an analysis of 100,000 patients at high risk of cardiac events. It was concluded that aspirin therapy was not shown to save lives. Specifically, he said the antiplatelet activity of aspirin is not as safe and effective as widely believed. He said all large long term trials of people taking aspirin showed those who take aspirin did not live any longer. He also found that aspirin changes the way vascular events present themselves, rather than actually preventing them. The number of non-fatal events may be reduced, but the number of sudden deaths increased. Aspirin may conceal a heart attack that is occurring up and until you are suddenly dead! Would you rather have warning a heart attack is coming so you can get to the hospital, or would you rather just keel over dead? You choose.

Other studies in 2009 and 2010 came to the same conclusion that aspirin therapy does not lower the risk of heart attack for diabetics, men or women, young or old.

An aspirin a day can’t really hurt anything can it? Well, that depends on your definition of hurt. If increased risk of GI bleeding and pancreatic cancer, duodenal ulcers, GI damage, diverticular disease, kidney failure, cataracts and macular degeneration doesn’t hurt, then go ahead, keep taking it.

A very recent study of age related macular degeneration showed an increase in risk from 1 in 200, to 1 in 100 when aspirin therapy is used. A separate study correlated increased risk with an increase in how frequently you’ve taken aspirin.

A new study just released in 2017 out of the Netherlands followed 30,000 people in the database of their national health system.  They looked at people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation over a period of three years.  The daily aspirin taken by thousands of these people to thin blood and ward off strokes appears to show a significant increase in the risk of heart attacks.  There is a 1.9 times greater risk of heart attack than those taking other blood thinning drugs such as warfarin.  Now warfarin is no saint of a drug either, but for purposes of this study, it appears to be the lesser of two evils when it comes to blood thinning drugs.  The doctors have been instructed to stop prescribing aspirin to these people.  And if it’s not good for that class of people, why is it okay for the general population?  Bluntly, it is not good for anyone according to most research.

The real key to preventing heart disease is to simply do all you can to improve your physical and emotional health. Restrict your intake of fructose to less than 25 grams per day, avoid highly processed foods, preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners and grains as much as possible. Start taking high quality, animal based omega 3 fats such as krill oil and fish oils. Eat more organic coconut oil and get more than enough vitamins D3 and K2. Exercise more regularly, get more sleep, and keep your weight under control.

Those ideas, my friends, are what wellness looks like. There is no magic pill that will substitute for plain old healthy living. You must take control of your health, it is your responsibility, not your neighbors or doctors.