I have many patients that are recommended by thier primary care physicians to take a baby aspirin per day. That’s the 81mg version that has become so popular over the last 5-10 years. They give it out like candy and like it has some kind of actual health benefit. It purportedly provides some measure of protection should a person have a heart attack or specific kind of stroke.
Aspirin is in the NSAID class of drugs and it is available over the counter. You must remember, however, that it is a drug and can have nasty side effects even when taken correctly. This “baby” aspirin can in fact increase your bleeding risk by 4 times over someone not taking it at all. It is marketed as “baby” aspirin as if to suggest it is so safe that even a baby could take it at that dose, but sadly this is not true. Below is a list of high risk markers that will increase your chance of developing complication:
- being older than 60,
- having a history of gastric or duodenal ulcer,
- having active Helicobacter pylori infection (the bacterium linked to ulcers),
- taking aspirin at the same time as you take full strength Nsaids (such as ibuprofen, Motrin and naproxen), anticoagulants (such as warfarin) or antiplatelet agents (such as clopidogrel or ticlopidine); or taking aspirin if you are a chronic steroid user.
The reason this NSAID class of drugs is effective for reducing complications from heart disease is because they are anti-inflammatory. That is, they reduce inflammation in the body. There are many ways to reduce inflammation without resorting to dangerous drugs. I have provided a safer list below:
- Fish oil
- Vitamin D
- Green Tea Extract
- Eating a diet low in Omega-6 (click for more information)
The list could go on and on, but the above has shown to reduce inflammation in people and this reduces cardiovascular risk. If you’re taking a “baby” aspirin talk to a qualified health professional about safer alternatives. There are many more than I have listed and they are just as effective.