We all know about the humble aspirin being popped when we’re in pain, or when suffering from an inflammation or a fever. However, aspirin has other uses too, apart from being an anti-inflammatory medication. Aspirin therapy is undertaken by many for the treatment of heart diseases including stroke, as well as prevention of the same.
Role of aspirin to protect the heart
- Aspirin tackles inflammation
Chemicals, such as plaque, cause strokes or heart attacks when they are inflamed. Cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that causes inflammation, is blocked by aspirin, thus preventing production of chemicals that lead to strokes.
- Aspirin prevents formation of blood clots
Certain chemicals that are present in the body provide the triggering signal to form blood clots even when not bleeding or when not needed by the body. By taking the aspirin therapy, the chemicals that trigger blood clot formation are restricted, thus slowing down the process of clot formation. Otherwise, these clots might block the arteries that carry blood to the brain and heart, thereby leading to strokes and increasing the chances of heart attacks.
- Aspirin helps reduce the risk of death
Aspirin prevents inflammation within the body or reduces it. It also slows down the formation of blood clots that might clog the arteries. Thus, in the long term aspirin helps reduce the risk of death among the elderly, physically unfit individuals, and those who are suffering from heart ailments if the anti-inflammatory medication is taken regularly.
Benefits and risks associated with aspirin therapy
This therapy is beneficial for those who have already suffered a heart attack, or have atherosclerosis, pulmonary artery disease, or have undergone an angioplasty, stent placement, or a bypass surgery, as well as those who have suffered an ischemic stroke. The benefits include:
- Reduction in the risk of suffering from a stroke
- Reduction in the risk of suffering from heart problems in the future after already having suffered a heart attack
- In case of a heart attack, reduction in the risk of damage caused to the heart
There are, however, a few risks to consider with aspirin therapy, which include:
- The risk of developing stomach ulcers and experiencing bleeding in the abdomen increases
- In case of suffering a stroke, aspirin might increase the risk of bleeding occurring in the brain
Instructions on how to take aspirin for preventing heart disease
The dosage of aspirin must be taken in consultation with a doctor since it is recommended to take a dose between approximately 80 milligrams (mg) to 160 mg in a day. Also, before starting the therapy, it must be ensured that the patient is not allergic to aspirin or ibuprofen.
Other instructions to remember include:
- Aspirin must be taken with meals or after meals but definitely not before a meal.
- Capsule or extended release aspirin tablets must not be crushed or broken into half or chewed. Instead, chewable aspirin can be taken.
- Aspirin must never be taken along with alcohol as it can lead to bleeding of the stomach.
- Aspirin must not be taken in place of other medications.
Other side effects include nausea, nervousness, troubled sleep, and upset stomach.
This summarizes the role of aspirin in heart diseases.