In an article from Doctor Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health it was revealed that only 26% of former heart attack patients take aspirin on a regular basis to prevent a reoccurrence of heart disease.
Harvard Medical School did a study of data collected between 1980 and 1996. (This was a time when the use of aspirin was shown to have benefits for those who suffer from heart disease.) The percentage of aspirin uses rose 21%, up from 5%, between that 16 year period. While these results are a major improvement, the numbers are nowhere near what medical experts expected them to be.
The regular intake of aspirin by heart disease patients has been proven to reduce the risk of blood clots, which are a major cause of heart attacks. The American Heart Association also recommends that people who suffer from unstable angina, a major warning sign of a heart attack which is characterized by sharp pain, take aspirin to reduce the chances of recurrent angina. Evidence of aspirin’s benefits is seen mostly in patients who already suffer from heart disease, but it has been proven that it helps patients to prevent it from ever occurring as well.
Patients are advised not to take aspirin for this reason without first consulting a doctor. This is because taking aspirin too often can cause some side effects which include ulcers and allergic reactions. This is also a reason that some doctors think the numbers in the study were so low- doctors are not aware that their patients are taking aspirin since it is an over the counter drug. Doctors also do not consider reporting the use of over the counter drugs to a study.
More people should look into taking aspirin though. Results show that death rates have gone down considerably over the past 40 years for patients suffering from all forms of heart disease. This is amazing considering the highest risk factors still are not being treated. These include smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Glibert Ross, M.D.
American Council on Science and Health
March 13, 2000