July 13, 2017

Aspirin- part 2

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

Before you jump on the bandwagon of taking aspirin daily for the reduction of heart attacks, stroke and cancer, you really need to educate yourself on the actual benefits and side effects.   Like we showed last week, recent studies point toward no benefit in reducing heart attack with aspirin use.  In fact, use of aspirin by people who have not had a cardiac event seems to increase the incidence of heart attack.

Let’s start with the professed benefit of taking an aspirin a day. It is said to help prevent cardiovascular events, especially in a person who already has had a heart attack or stroke. A recent report came out saying aspirin prevents cancer when taken for at least 3 years. The process of thinning the blood so it can circulate more easily amongst clogged and narrowed arteries sure seems logical enough, if it only were true.

Aspirin’s effectiveness has been over-valued and its scientific record shows the practice to be an abysmal failure. Dr. John G.F. Cleland, a cardiologist in the United Kingdom, has done a lot of research into this subject, analyzing studies of more than 100,000 patients at high risk for cardiovascular events. He concluded aspirin therapy was not shown to save lives. All the large, long term studies show those who take aspirin live no longer than those who don’t. He wrote that those studies which showed some benefit are seriously flawed and the interpretation is biased.

One note of interest that Dr. Cleland makes is this: “Aspirin changes the way vascular events present themselves, rather than preventing them. The number of non-fatal (not dead) events may be reduced, BUT there is an increase in sudden deaths. Aspirin may conceal a cardiac event in progress.” Which would you rather have, pain and signs of a heart attack so you have some time to get treatment, or just die from it without warning? I could make a case for either one, but most people prefer to live a little longer, if possible.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, October 19, by Jonathan Rich, showed that patients taking aspirin showed a higher risk for recurrent heart attack and associated heart problems.

Here comes the scary part of regular aspirin use, the side effects. Routine use of aspirin has been associated with the following problems: Bleeding, especially of the GI tract, duodenal ulcers, GI damage, and diverticular disease; increased risk of kidney failure, hearing loss, tinnitus and hemorrhagic brain strokes. There is also the risk of blindness from excessive cataract formation and age related macular degeneration.

The number one side effect is gastrointestinal bleeding. A 2009 Australian study showed aspirin causes damage even at the” low” doses used for “cardiovascular protection,” which is about 80 mg. The damage to your duodenum, the upper bowel right after the stomach, can occur in as little as 2 weeks, and is likely to present as an ulcer, which can bleed severely and go unnoticed. This bleeding is more pronounced in the elderly. The annual ulcer rate for those taking aspirin regularly is approximately 28%, or 1 in 4.

Scientists have known for a while that long term use of aspirin therapy, 10 years or longer, is associated with a 44% increase in cataracts. Oddly, the risk was greater in those under 65, compared to older subjects.

Dr. Mercola says the real key to preventing heart disease is to use a combined approach to wellness. These are keys to good health overall, and are preventive ideas for many chronic problems we face. You must restrict your sugar intake, especially fructose, to very low amounts. Avoid processed foods, preservative, additives, artificial sweeteners and grains as much as possible. Eat foods raw when possible. Consume grass fed beef and milk products, they contain as much omega 3 fatty acids as wild salmon, and have healthy saturated fats. Add more omega 3 fats to your diet in the form of krill oil or fish oil. Get plenty of vitamins D and K2. Finally, make sure you exercise properly, with peak fitness interval training, and keep a healthy weight and body composition. Don’t ever forget that side effects of physician prescribed medication are the 4th leading cause of death today.