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March Newsletter

Aspirin

By David Mendosa

Last Update: August 21, 2002

Update: October 24, 2008:
Please see http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/17/45857/stopping-aspirin

For just three cents per day you can take a well-tested drug that will significantly reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes. These cardiovascular complications cause about three-fourths of the deaths among people with diabetes.

Aspirin doesn't actually thin the blood.

Hot News in Diabetes
Yet fewer than one of five adults with diabetes take this drug regularly. The drug is aspirin.

Until recently, it wasn't clear that the benefit of aspirin would outweigh its potential hazards, specifically bleeding complications. But now several large-scale studies have demonstrated that low doses of coated aspirin have a positive effect in people at risk of heart attacks and strokes—if their blood pressure is in the normal range.

The major risk factors include diabetes, age, high total cholesterol, obesity, and a parent or sibling who had a heart attack before reaching 55. High blood pressure or hypertension is also a risk factor, but it needs to be well-controlled since the higher the blood pressure the greater the stroke risk.

Articles in the January 13, 2001, issue of The Lancet, one of the world's top medical journals, recommend low doses of aspirin if you have at least one of the major risk factors. By low dose they mean 80-100 mg daily. In the United States, the typical low dose is 81 mg and is labeled as adult low strength or baby aspirin.

Aspirin works by preventing the formation of clots within blood vessels. While often called a blood thinner, it doesn't actually thin the blood.

Some people should avoid aspirin. Don't take it if you are taking another drug that interferes with clotting, such as warfarin (Coumadin). Consult your doctor before starting to take it regularly.

Lifestyle Improvement Tip
If you add aspirin to the pills you already take, is that just too many to keep track of? If so, you might need a pill box, technically known as a medication organizer.

Dozens of brands and styles are available. The most convenient are those with 28 compartments. These compartments are organized to allow for medication four times a day, over the course of one week (seven days).

Prices for pill boxes are about $5 to $9.

Related Web Site Reviews
"Low-dose aspirin and vitamin E in people at cardiovascular risk: a randomized trial in general practice," The Lancet, January 13, 2001, is on-line at: http://www.thelancet.com/journal/vol357/iss9250/full/llan.357.9250.original_research.14880.1.

This article by Maria Carla Roncaglioni and colleagues reported on a controlled, centrally randomized, open-label trial of 4,495 people taking aspirin or vitamin E.

"Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular events," The Lancet, January 13, 2001, is on-line at: http://www.thelancet.com/journal/vol357/iss9250/full/llan.357.9250.editorial_and_review.14897.1.

This commentary by Walter W. Rosser of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, concluded that doctors and their patients need to agree on long-term therapy like taking aspirin.

"Aspirin Therapy" by Endocrinologist William Quick, M.D., is an earlier recommendation for most people with diabetes to take a daily aspirin tablet. The URL is: http://www.diabetesmonitor.com/aspirin.htm.

"Aspirin Therapy in Diabetes" is a current Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association. Although not reflecting the new aspirin studies, the position statement recommends that most people with diabetes who are 30 or older take aspirin daily. The URL is: http://journal.diabetes.org/FullText/Supplements/DiabetesCare/Supplement100/s61.htm 


This article was originally written for the LXN Corp. Web site.


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