This is a Myth.
This myth was first propagated in 1948 when a California doctor publicized that his patients who medicated with a daily dose of aspirin reduced their risk for heart attacks.
Forty years later, the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) recommended taking aspirin to help prevent cardiovascular problems such as myocardial infarction, heart attack and stroke. Even though numerous studies have dis-proven the flimsy link between aspirin and heart attack prevention, the FDA’s recommendation still stands.
Dismantling the Myth
The fallacy that aspirin helps prevent heart disease first came under scrutiny 10 years ago, when Dr. John G.F. Cleland, a cardiologist from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, found that the benefits of aspirin were not only largely exaggerated, but also dangerously inaccurate.
He analyzed a huge collection of research known as the Antithrombotic Trialists’ Collaboration, which followed 100,000 patients susceptible to heart complications.
He concluded that aspirin therapy does not prevent heart disease for several reasons.
- Aspirin disturbs normal platelet functioning, a process that can have dangerous consequences. (Platelets are blood cells that make it possible for your blood to clot.)
- All of the comprehensive, wide-scale trials show that heart attack victims taking aspirin do not live any longer than those not treated with aspirin.
- Aspirin does not put a stop to heart attacks, it merely alters the way cardiovascular complications show themselves.
Dr. Cleland’s report uncovered that aspirin, even low-dose aspirin (LDA), can do more harm than good. While aspirin may lower the risk for non-fatal cardiovascular complications, research shows that it raises the risk for sudden death because it can conceal the occurrence of a cardiovascular problem, such as a heart attack.
In 2004, Dr. Cleland added to his research by conducting a trial on 279 patients taking a blood-thinning medication. Findings confirmed his earlier conclusion: Those given aspirin experienced the worst cardiovascular outcomes.
A 2010 study investigated whether patients taking aspirin before suffering from an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) had a higher risk for recurrent heart problems or mortality. An ACS is any reaction caused by restricted blood flow to the heart, such as a heart attack or unstable angina.
Researchers discovered that regular use of aspirin leads to a higher incidence of heart problems, including a greater probability of death.
Want more proof? Harvard researchers followed 40,000 women over 10 years to determine whether aspirin does indeed have a cardio benefit. The conclusion? LDA does not reduce a women’s risk for heart disease or death.
The effect of aspirin on the cardiovascular health of diabetic patients has been of particular interest to researchers, as diabetes increases one’s risk for heart disease.
In 2009, the British Medical Journal reported that there is no evidence that aspirin prevents heart disease in diabetic men or women. Likewise, a 2009 Swedish study found that not only does aspirin not have any benefit on heart health, but it also increases bleeding in some diabetic patients.
In 2010, a United Kingdom meta-analysis of 6 trials made up of over 7000 diabetic patients showed that those who regularly took aspirin had no reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.
Exposing the Harm
Aspirin’s side effects outweigh any perceived benefit this pain-reliever provides. Aspirin has been proven to increase your risk for…
- Bleeding, especially in the gastrointestinal tract
- GI damage
- Kidney failure
- Breast cancer
- Hearing loss
- Abdominal pain
- Severe headaches
A recent study analyzed the effect of low-dose aspirin on healthy patients’ gastrointestinal tracts. An endoscopic exam showed that aspirin users developed “small bowel injuries.” A 2009 Australian study confirmed that even a small amount of aspirin (80mg a day) causes gastroduodenal damage.
A Japanese study corroborated, reporting that aspirin users have a higher chance of bleeding and a 10% greater chance of developing peptic ulcers. This risk is even greater in elderly patients, who are routinely prescribed aspirin to “protect” against cardiovascular disease.
Protect Your Heart the Safe Way
There are much safer ways to promote optimal heart health and prevent heart disease. Here are some ways that you can have a healthy beating heart.