A new study examining the potential benefits of aspirin for heart attack patients has revealed that most people do themselves more harm than good by taking the drug – and that the risks outweigh the benefit for many patients with cardiovascular conditions.
Using aspirin to treat heart attack is not needed by about 10% of those it is prescribed for, and it becomes counter-productive for these percentage of people as against the remaining 90% who could benefit from the drug.
“Aspirin is not a medication that comes without risks,” said lead researcher Dr. Riva Hira, a cardiologist with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.
For heart attack patients that take aspirin needlessly, they could end up experiencing gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke as a potential cause of the drug, and this side-effects can be deadlier than thought.
Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jiminez of the Mayo Clinic stated that “The most important message is to recognize that there are people (who take) aspirin believing that they are protecting themselves from having heart attacks when they are actually exposing themselves to the (bleeding) risks of taking aspirin and likely having no benefit at all.”
And a cardiologist, Ravi Dave explains that “You can have risk of bleeding in your stomach. You can even have a stroke that can cause bleeding inside your brain.”
About 68,000 patients were involved in the study, and the researchers advised doctors to use the calculator tool prescribed by the American Heart Association for determining the suitability of any particular patient for aspirin use. Some of the issues that could be resolved with the use of this standard calculator are the age, race, sex, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, diabetes status, blood pressure-lowering medications in use, and smoking status of each patient before aspirin is prescribed for them.
Dr. Hira advised that “Your doctor needs to assess not only your risk of cardiovascular disease, but also your risk of bleeding.”
The study revealed that 17% of women take aspirin when they really ought not to, as compared with 5% of men who also do. However, doctors advise that the convenience of popping a pill should not trump the need to properly look after your own health.