Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Should You Take a Daily Aspirin?

What About Aspirin?
The logic behind using aspirin is based on the idea that it inhibits the formation of blood clots. It does this by preventing the production of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme responsible for making prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormones that perform various bodily functions. Some prostaglandins cause platelets to become stickier and adhere to one another while attaching to arterial walls. However, other prostaglandins help prevent the platelets from attaching to one another. Thus, aspirin prevents the body’s own natural self-regulating mechanisms.

This is similar to what happens when taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). By the way, aspirin is the original NSAID. It reduces inflammation by blocking prostaglandins 1, 2, and 3. The problem with this is that prostaglandins 1 and 3 are the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory hormones. Blocking prostaglandins 1 and 3 prevents the body from releasing its own natural pain blocking chemicals.
Vioxx and Other NSAIDS Pulled from Market
Merck pulled the drug Vioxx off the market because a long-term clinical trial showed that some patients, after taking the drug for 18 months, developed serious heart problems. The data that ultimately persuaded the company to withdraw the drug indicated 15 cases of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots per thousand people each year over three years, compared with 7.5 such events per thousand patients taking a placebo.
Internal memos show disagreement within the FDA over a study by one of its own scientists, Dr. David Graham, who estimated Vioxx had been associated with more than 27,000 heart attacks or deaths linked to cardiac problems.
Studies have shown Vioxx users had twice the number of heart attacks as those taking Naproxen. These new drugs, which block COX-2 enzymes, may promote excessive blood clot formation. It appears that COX-2 enzymes counteract some of the effects of COX-1 enzymes, which narrow the blood vessels. This narrowing then causes blood to be more likely to clot.
A person taking NSAIDS, including aspirin, is seven times more likely to be hospitalized for gastrointestinal adverse affects. The FDA estimates that 200,000 cases of gastric bleeding occur annually, and that this leads to 10,000 to 20,000 deaths each year.
NSAIDs can cause high blood pressure. In one study, 41% of those who had recently started on medication to lower their blood pressure were also taking NSAIDs. NSAIDs more than double a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure.

Why isn’t my doctor telling me these things?

Good question. Most doctors and the public at large has been brainwashed into believing that these drugs pose little harm. As you’re now finding out nothing could be further from the truth.

You won’t find this behind the scenes, undercover reporting in the typical brochures on high blood pressure.

These pamphlets are by the way written by the drug companies, who of course don’t won’t you know just how dangerous their drugs are.

There have been several studies which have looked at the role aspirin may play in reducing heart attacks. But one in particular, The Aspirin Component of the Ongoing Physicians’ Health Study, is cited by physician groups, the media, and of course the drug companies who make aspirin.
This study involved 22,071 male physicians. Half of the study participants took Bufferin and half took a placebo. The study shows that over a 4.8-year period, there were 44 deaths in the Bufferin group and 44 deaths in the placebo group.
The Bufferin group did have fewer heart attacks (139 compared to 239) than the placebo group. Looking at the numbers above, we would conclude that taking Bufferin prevented 100 heart attacks. However, if we look at these numbers a little closer, you may not want to take a daily aspirin.
If we take the 11,037 who took Bufferin and divide by 100 (the number who benefited from taking Bufferin) we see that .906% of those taking Bufferin benefited. This is of course less than one percent, a number not worth the fanfare it has received.

The researchers reported that those taking Bufferin had between a 44 and 47% reduction in heart attack risk. How did they get this number? They took the 100 people who presumably didn’t experience a heart attack because of taking Bufferin and divided it by the 239 who didn’t take Bufferin and had a heart attack. This turns out to be 44%.
Researchers can do wonders with statistical analysis!
An interesting finding that somehow wasn’t revealed by this now famous study was that those taking Bufferin had a higher incidence of stroke (119), than those in the placebo group (98). Conventional doctors advocate the use of aspirin for the prevention of stroke. If we were to use the same statistical parameters by the authors of this study, we’d see that those taking Bufferin had a 21.4% increase in strokes!
Other studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular deaths have shown no benefit at all.  A 1975 study involving one million American men and women showed there was no benefit in taking aspirin.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute evaluated the effects of taking aspirin in a group of 4,524 participants. Half took aspirin and half took a placebo. The group who took aspirin had a 14.1% increase in heart attacks, while those taking a placebo had a 14.8% increase.
In 2003, a study linking low dose aspirin use among elderly patients caused decreased kidney function.
An Aspirin a day may not be in  your best interest after all. 

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