Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a heart attack. In that same time, someone else dies ofheart disease. It’s no secret that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and it doesn’t discriminate — people of all races and genders are potential targets. No one is immune.
But what people don’t know is, despite efforts over the past decade from the medical community, the numbers are rising not falling. It turns out some of their recommendations were either not effective or may have been making the situation worse.
One of those recommendations had to do with aspirin. For years, doctors recommended those at risk of, or already suffering from, heart disease take an aspirin every day to help prevent a cardiovascular event, including heart attack or stroke. Now, experts have changed their tune. Ashocking recent study has revealed that taking a daily aspirin to ward off heart disease may have hidden dangers for your health, and the potential benefits are not worth the risk. It too often has been shown to be harmful or even fatal to older adults, including those with no history of heart disease.
Turns Out An Aspirin A Day Will Not Keep The Doctor Away
Without the support of the multi-million dollar ad campaign that pushed tens of millions of people to start taking daily aspirin in the first place, doctors are quietly recommending that most people stop their daily aspirin practice.
People who have never experienced a cardiovascular event or who have not been diagnosed with heart disease should steer clear of taking a low-dose aspirin every day, say medical experts. No longer should this be considered a preventative measure.
Aspirin works by thinning the blood to help prevent blood clots, which is important for those who have had a heart attack or are at increased risk of heart attack or stroke. However, we now know that taking aspirin daily as a preventative measure can lead to severe gastrointestinal bleeding, especially in those over 70 who are already at an increased risk of bleeding. And those with stomach ulcers or other pre-existingdigestive issues are particularly at risk.
In July 2019, several doctors conducted a survey of more than 14,000 American adults over the age of 40 who took aspirin daily. Interestingly, the study revealed that almosta quarter of those surveyed who were taking a daily low-dose aspirin did so without first consulting with their doctor, as a protective measure against heart attack and heart disease. Of those surveyed who were over 70 years old, nearly half did not suffer from any type of heart disease.
Numbers-wise, that means nearly 7 to 8 million Americans are taking a daily low-dose aspirin without any doctor recommendation or without consulting with a healthcare provider.
This is especially troubling considering that we now know that aspirin can contribute to severe internal bleeding. We also now know that taking certain supplements, such as those containing evening primrose, ginkgo, capsaicin, bilberry, or even fish oil may have the potential to interact with aspirin and further increase the risk of bleeding. The same goes fortaking NSAIDs like Motrin, Advil, and Aleve. We found recommendations from the drug manufacturers stating “if you feel it necessary to take an anti-inflammatory medication like Motrin or Aleve, be sure to take it two hours after taking aspirin”. We don’t think that’s a great solution. Instead, we recommend avoiding those NSAIDs altogether if possible.
So please speak with your health provider prior to taking a daily aspirin as a preventative heart disease measure, and also be sure to mention any supplements you take and discuss alternatives if NSAIDs are part of your daily life.
ButDO NOT Quit Aspirin Cold Turkey!
So should I quit taking my daily baby aspirin cold turkey?Surprisingly, the answer to that question is no.
Medical experts tell us that in some cases going cold turkey could put someone with heart disease at a greater risk of suffering a heart attack. So if you take aspirin every day and plan to stop, do so under the supervision of your primary care physician. Stopping cold turkey could cause what doctors refer to as a “rebound effect”, which could trigger a heart attack. This is especially true if you’ve suffered a heart attack already. There’s a better way to kick the daily aspirin habit.
Should Anyone Still Be Taking A Daily Low-Dose of Aspirin?
Here’s where it gets confusing – we now know taking aspirin on a daily basis is often a health risk, however, if you are at ahigh risk of heart attack or stroke and are not at high risk of internal bleeding, the research still recommends that you do consider taking aspirin daily.
A person considered at high risk includes:
- Anyone who has an immediate male family member diagnosed with heart disease before they turned 55 or an immediate female family member diagnosed prior to turning 65.
- People who havehigh blood pressure orhigh cholesterol, and who has difficulty getting them under control.
- People withdiabetes.
People who have already had a heart attack or stroke or have heart disease are also considered at risk and should consider continuing with their daily low-dose aspirin regimen, but only if recommended by your doctor as an effective way to prevent another cardiovascular event.
On one hand, healthy adults with zero history of heart disease who are under the age of 40 should definitely findalternative ways to prevent heart disease according to many health experts.
GoingAu Naturale To Help Prevent Heart Disease
There are other, holistic, very effective ways to reduce your risk of heart disease or having a hard attack.
- Diet is key.Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables,whole grains, beans,nuts and seeds, and heart-healthy oils like cold-pressed olive or avocado oil. Avoid processed foods, foods high in saturated fat andrefined sugars. Research has demonstrated that one of the most important heart-healthy foods that should be included every day (and with at least two meals a day) is dark, leafy greens.
- Maintain a healthy weight.For many, this is easier said than done —but it’s not impossible, and it is essential for health.Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease and can easily bump you into that high-risk zone. Additionally, being overweight often coincides with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic inflammation and diabetes, all of which are also risk factors for heart disease. Eating a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, as can the next tip. Remember, a healthy weight is not about how you look. It’s just about keeping your body functioning at optimal levels, and it looks different for everyone!
- Exercise regularly.Exercise improves circulation and gets the blood pumping, which works to strengthen the heart and, thus, helps lower your risk of heart disease. Exercise also helps tolower blood pressure and cholesterol and lower your risk of diabetes. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderateaerobic exercise per week which translates to 30 minutes a day. Swimming, briskwalking, cycling, or playing tennis are just a few heart-healthy exercise options.
- Get enough sleep.The more we learn about it, the more we realize thatlack of sleep is the root of many evils. It increasesanxiety and stress levels; leads to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and the list goes on. Poor sleep means an increased risk of heart disease in an increased risk of early death.Getting 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye every night is essential for improving your overall well-beingandreducing your risk of heart disease.
- Keep stress levels at a minimum.Stress can elevate your heart rate and increase blood pressure; there is no question that stress is directly linked to an increased risk of heart attack. Tolower stress levels, tryyoga, deep breathing, listening to music, going for a walk, journaling, exercising, or taking up a new hobby.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking. People often turn to alcohol andsmoking when they feel stressed. Too much of either can lead to high blood pressure and obesity, both of which can increase your rate of having a heart attack. We often hear thathaving a glass of red wine is good for the heart. While new research demonstrates mixed findings — showing that wine consumption “only benefited people that lead an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle” —our advice is to avoid alcohol altogether, including wine. Instead, opt for other heart-healthy options that provide the same or better benefits, such as brightly colored fruits and vegetables like fresh beets, grapes, carrots, raspberries, and blueberries.
- Supplement with a high quality multi. We know vitamins and minerals are important – but, as we learn more about them, we are realizing that getting theright amount of each vitamin and mineral and from theright source is proving to be as important as taking a multivitamin/mineral in the first place. Cutting-edge research from the National Institute of Health (NIH) has shown us that most conventual multi-vitamins provide dangerous — and even toxic — amounts of certain nutrients while simultaneously providing too little of other essential key minerals and nutrients. Whenselecting a multi, we suggest looking for one that is primarily food-based and provides the exact amounts of vitamins and minerals your body needs (the amount that diet does not provide). We recommend a multi sourced from natural, not synthetic, food sources that are delivered in the most bioavailable forms, including easily digestible oil-based soft gels for vitamins and loose-packed, easily absorbable powders for minerals.
Bottom Line on Daily Aspirin Use
Don’t expect a national public health marketing campaign on the potential dangers of daily aspirin use any time soon. Do your homework and talk to your doctor. The alarming new research clearly suggests that taking aspirin daily may do more harm than good, especially if you have no history of heart disease or are at higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. If you’re considering integrating aspirin into your daily routine, avoid doing so without firstdiscussing it with your doctor. And please, look to other, natural options to protect the health of your heart and your cardiovascular system as well!