EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

February 4, 2013

Aspirin regimen could have benefits

Q: My twin sister’s doctor just recommended adding an aspirin to her daily intake of vitamins and other medications. I am wondering if I should also be taking an aspirin due to our identical genetic factors?

A: Remember the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? If you were to believe some television commercials they would have you switch this to “An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away.” Your question is particularly relevant since February is National Heart Month, making it even more important to clarify the appropriate use of aspirin. Most households probably contain a bottle of aspirins commonly used to relieve pain, headaches or bring down a temperature on an occasional basis.

Individuals should not initiate a daily aspirin routine without first consulting their physician. There are both significant risks and benefits which should be taken into consideration before taking aspirin on a regular basis. Only a physician familiar with a person’s medical history can safely make this determination after reviewing all the facts. The chemical components of aspirin essentially reduces the blood’s clotting action which can be beneficial in some scenarios (blood vessels narrowed from the build up of fatty deposits in arteries) and dangerous in others (history of a bleeding or clotting disorder, aspirin allergy or bleeding stomach ulcers).

Aspirin may be recommended for individuals who have a history of heart disease, bypass surgery, angina, at risk of a heart attack or have had a stent placed in a coronary artery. Many (but not all) in the medical community believe aspirin may reduce the chance of a heart attack or stroke for those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or who smoke.

If your physician recommends an aspirin regimen do not stop taking this without prior approval. Likewise, always notify all medical personnel involved before any surgical or dental procedures due to the increased risk of bleeding. It is also wise to limit the use of alcohol (additional blood thinning effects) and seek advice when using non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications which can also increase the risk of bleeding. Not all aspirins are equal, dosages range from 81 mg (baby) to 325 mg (regular strength)...only take the dosage prescribed by your physician.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries or comments from our readers, direct correspondence to ro@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. 360 Merrimack Street B#5, Lawrence, MA 01843. Rosanne DiStefano is the Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc.

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