ASPIRIN AND ELDERLY CONCERNS
There is a warning out tonight by medical researchers that individuals over the age of 70 need to think twice about using aspirin on a daily basis.
It’s important to realize that as benign as certain drugs
May be, and even if they’re available over the counter, there are risks and side effects. This study says that those risks become markedly significant in those over 70…so much so that maybe, it’s not worth it to use it.
Beatrice rodriguez takes an aspirin a day. “81 milligrams a day. They said that it helps the circulation and avoids heart attacks,” says Beatrice.
There are some minor concerns about her heart, so for her, the aspirin makes sense, even though she also has a history of, as she puts it, acid in the stomach. It’s these conflicting conditions which are the aspirin battleground.
Dr. Alison Schecter, Co-Director of the Women’s Care Program at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, says, “Aspirin is a wonderful medication because one it saves lives, and that, is key in our economically challenged society, it’s cheap!”
But, according to new research in the British Medical Journal, the benefits of routinely giving low dose aspirin to prevent heart disease in healthy people 70 and older for the prevention of heart attack and stroke in this population may not make sense.
The model suggests that any benefits gained from preventing heart attacks and stroke may be offset by increased cases of serious bleeding in either the gastrointestinal tract or the brain. In other words, it’s a wash.
Aspirin works to prevent heart attacks and strokes by acting on the platelets. Platelets are the sticky cells in the blood which clump together when triggered by atherosclerotic plaque, a fatty cholesterol piece that clogs the artery.
The clot can lead to complete blockage and a heart attack or a stroke. Aspirin blocks a key protein that promotes that stickiness, making them less sticky.
But that can also cause one to bleed excessively, especially from an ulcer, or in the brain. The authors say doctors should not blindly recommend aspirin for their patients.
Dr. Schecter, agrees, but says aspirin does have a place in the over 70 population if prescribed properly. “I wouldn’t take it verbatim and not give anyone over the age of 70 aspirin and I wouldn’t recommend anyone stopping their aspirin because of this study. I think an important take home message is that it is a very safe drug but it’s not ready to be given to everybody because of the very reasons in this study.”