Using Aspirin for Heart Health May Have More Risks Than Benefits
It’s a common practice to take aspirin daily for a healthy heart. However, recent research shows that this method may have far more risks than benefits.
According to a study published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 11.6% of the nearly 70,000 patients seeing a cardiologist in the US are taking the drug “inappropriately”. This means these patients have a very low risk of heart disease to begin with – therefore, aspirin as a preventative method is unnecessary and may even be harmful.
What is Aspirin?
Aspirin is known to battle heart attacks and strokes by preventing the formation of blood clots. Clots are made up of blood cells called platelets, which stick together with the help of an enzyme known as cyclo-oxygenase, or COX. However, aspirin prevents COX from doing its job, which can cause other health issues. It can be quite useful in preventing heart problems, but it also increases your risk of excessive bleeding due to its blood thinning qualities. This can lead to internal bleeding that may be fatal, including hemorrhagic stroke in the brain.
Due to these unforeseen issues that result from overuse of aspirin, experts recommend its use for only those with an existing risk of clots or clot-related problem. That includes pretty much everyone who has already suffered an ischemic stroke or heart attack. It also includes people who have never had a heart attack or stroke, but face at least a 6% to 10% risk of suffering one in the next 10 years, according to recent guidelines from the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The results of this study make it clear that patients may be uninformed and over-medicated on the use of aspirin. Medications, including OTC pills like aspirin, should be used only when the benefits outweigh the risks. Talk to your doctor about what’s necessary for your personal health.
Three Natural Methods to Practice Good Heart Health
1. Following a heart-healthy diet
According to the Mayo Clinic’s Heart-healthy eating guide, the best way to begin following a heart-healthy diet plan is to focus on vegetables, fruits and whole grains, while limiting high-fat foods like red meat, cheese and baked goods, and high-sodium foods like canned or processed food.
2. Avoiding Trans-fat
Commonly considered the worst type of fat you can consume, trans-fat is harmful to the body, mainly for your cholesterol – it has been shown to raise your LDL (“bad” cholesterol”) and lower your HDL (“good” cholesterol). Trans-fat can commonly be found in baked goods (cakes and cookies), snacks (chips and popcorn), fried food (french fries and doughnuts), and other food items like creamer and margarine. Always be sure to read nutrition labels on foods to know what you are putting into your body. As a general rule, if you cannot pronounce it, stay away from it.
According to the American Heart Association, regular exercise (along with following a healthy diet) can greatly benefit heart health. The AHA states that regular exercise contributes to a reduction in body weight, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and increases in exercise tolerance, HDL cholesterol, and insulin sensitivity.