Times have indeed changed…3 decades ago, the medical fraternity were singing praises about the wonder pill that would be the panacea for preventing heart attacks and strokes. So much so, health authorities were seriously considering adding it to the community’s drinking water supply so that everyone could benefit. Doctors, otherwise hale and hearty, were taking them ‘ just in case’. What was it supposed to do? It thins the blood enough to prevent clots from forming within the blood vessels and thereby preventing blockage.
Now, aspirin, a humble drug which has been used as a pain-killer for over a century, has come under severe cross-examination. Why? Largely because researchers have recently discovered that taking aspirin pills does not prevent heart or blood-vessel disease in otherwise normal people.
In fact, healthy people who take aspirin to prevent heart attacks could be doing more harm than good. Aspirin is notorious for causing bleeding in the stomach, sometimes several months after commencing it. And the bleeding can be silent, without much stomach pain with the symptoms being confined to ‘blackish’ stools.
A caveat though…for those already suffering from heart disease or stroke, the role of aspirin is still undisputed and its benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. For those who are otherwise healthy but have several risk factors (like smoking, parents with heart disease), the decision is not that clear-cut though. You need to discuss this with your own doctor.
One thing for certain, if someone has symptoms suggestive of an impending heart attack, chewing an aspirin pill immediately can be a life-saver even before one reaches the emergency room..
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