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Aspirin Disappoints for Avoiding First Heart Attack, Stroke

Put to the test as a prevention against first-time heart attacks and stroke, aspirin failed to live up to its promise, according to new research at the University of Oxford, England. Not only that, low-doses of aspirin also failed on cancer prevention, ABC News said. The research team found similarly disappointing results with fish oil supplements.

The study, sponsored by aspirin maker Bayer, did find slight benefits for people with diabetes, but those benefits were offset by bleeding problems. Researchers were careful to note their study doesn’t alter guidelines to take aspirin or fish oil for those who have already suffered from a heart attack.

Daily aspirin therapy as a preventive measure to lower your risk of heart attack has been controversial for quite some time. In 2016, it was estimated that 36 percent of American were on a low-dose version of it, although numerous studies were already refuting its benefits. The idea of aspirin therapy, of course, is to decrease your blood’s ability to form dangerous clots. It does that — but at what price?

As the featured study found, sometimes all you’re doing by swallowing that aspirin is exchanging one risk for another. The bottom line is, even with a Bayer-sponsored study, researchers have found that daily aspirin has no value for otherwise healthy people. Worse, previous studies have found that aspirin can actually mask a cardiac event in progress.

Does that mean you should just stop taking it? No — at least for those who have had a heart attack, abruptly stopping it could trigger a life-threatening heart attack. The suggestion, then, is to consult your physician before beginning or ending aspirin therapy to see if it’s a right fit for you.

In summary, overall, most organizations now agree that the benefits of daily aspirin does NOT outweigh the risks if you have a low risk of a heart attack. However, be mindful that taking other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprophen can also increase your risk for internal bleeding.

The ultimate tragedy here is that some patients will continue taking these drugs, either on their own or because a health care professional suggests it, when one thing that’s often overlooked when we talk about heart disease is the erroneous thinking that blocked arteries are caused by high cholesterol — in fact, 80 percent of heart attacks are not associated with blocked arteries at all.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that at least one study shows that people taking seven aspirins per week had lower iron (ferritin) levels than nonusers. But, if lowering your ferritin level is your primary goal, please understand that donating blood is a far safer way to do that.