If you ask someone over the age of 50 "what is one thing you can do to help prevent a heart attack?" the answer that you will probably receive is "take aspirin". While there are several things you can do to help reduce the risk of first-time heart attacks there are times when aspirin is an important part of the treatment plan, but not always. A study published in the online American Journal of Cardiology on April 11, 2011 looked at when aspirin is most effective as part of a treatment plan for patients who had not suffered from a heart attack. The researcher looked at nine studies including over 100,000 participants who had not had previous heart attacks and found that there was a 19 percent reduction in heart attacks in participants that took aspirin than those who did not. One of the concerns about prescribing aspirin is that it is considered a blood thinner. As a blood thinner it makes it more difficult for the body to stop bleeding, to create a blood clot, and this could present other health problems, like bleeding ulcers. The increase in the rate of bleeding is why Dr. Michael L. LeFevre, a doctor who is one of the experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a federally supported expert panel created in 2009, suggested that each patient talk with his or her doctor before deciding to take aspirin. Doctors can help their patients evaluate whether the benefits of taking aspirin outweigh the risk of increased bleeding rates. There are a few simple blood tests and a simple history that will allow the doctor to appropriately evaluate the best treatment plan.
As a naturopathic doctor, in addition to tests and medical history, I also look at social and behavioral history to include lifestyle recommendations in my treatment plan. When looking at heart disease, the foods that people eat, their exercise levels, and their stress levels are extremely important parts of the picture as well. Check out my blog to learn more about lifestyle issues and improving the quality of life: www.healthydaes.org.
Dr. Dae's website: www.healthydaes.com
Dr. Dae's book: Daelicious!