December and January are the deadliest months for heart disease, and many of the things that make the season merry are culprits: rich meals, too much alcohol - not to mention all of the extra stress. Often in these situations people initially dismiss chest pain as a bad case of indigestion. Research suggests they're more reluctant to visit an emergency room, especially if it means disrupting a holiday gathering, or if they've traveled to an unfamiliar city - meaning that once they get to a doctor, the situation is truly dire.
Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are our nation's number 1 killer. Because of this, the American Heart Association and American Medical Association have deemed daily low-dose aspirin regimens to be among the best preventive measures for those at risk of heart attack or stroke, and to help improve blood flow to the heart.
Evidence of a daily low dose aspirin's cardiovascular benefits has been building since research began on the topic in the early 1970s. In 1988, the Physicians' Health Study, led by Dr. Charles H. Hennekens, was launched to demonstrate the benefits of taking aspirin daily. This now-famous study involved physicians who took a daily aspirin without knowing the ingredients. One half of the participants took aspirin and the other half took a sugar pill. The study found that a daily aspirin reduced the risk of a first heart attack by 44 percent. Follow-up studies have confirmed aspirin's benefits.
In light of these promising findings for heart patients, the American Heart Association has recommended that patients who have experienced a heart attack, unstable angina, ischemic stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIAs or ‘mini strokes') should consult their physician about starting daily low dose aspirin therapy.
The National Heart Foundation reports that patients who took low dose aspirin had a 26% reduction in the risk of nonfatal heart attack, 25% reduction in stroke and 13% reduction in the risk of death compared to similar patients who didn't take aspirin.
Living up to its reputation as a 'wonder drug', aspirin's action as a blood thinner has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the rate of heart attacks, strokes and related deaths. The ability of aspirin to prevent blood from clotting (aspirin makes the cells 'less sticky') prevents these events from happening.
Because of its anti-clotting benefits, aspirin also helps even if a heart attack or stroke does occur and can reduce the severity of the event. Studies show there is a 44% reduction in the incidence of a first heart attack, 25% reduction from a second heart attack and one is 23% less likely to die from the heart attack if on aspirin.
Aspirin is one of the most carefully studied drugs available and has been used to reduce pain and inflammation for over a century. Evidence is rapidly growing that supports its use in lowering not just the rates of heart attack and stroke, but also colon cancer and even Alzheimer's disease.
Recent innovations in aspirin delivery have resulted in a tablet that dissolves in the mouth, not in the stomach. This easy-to-use method requires no water and provides rapid absorption into the blood stream in just three to five minutes, or up to ten times faster than conventional aspirin typically absorbed through the stomach.
No-swallow aspirin also prevents irritation to the gastro-intestinal tract - a common side effect which prevents some people from sticking to a daily aspirin regimen. Similarly, many older adults have a hard time swallowing a full tablet, and find the daily regimen can fast become a chore. Over 44% of persons over 50 have problems swallowing tablets.
Because of the speed with which it reaches the blood stream, no-swallow aspirin is the delivery of choice at the onset of a heart attack or stroke, where doctors recommend immediately administering the drug. By doing so, aspirin can reduce the risk of death by as much as 23 percent, according to published studies.
Health professionals have known for years the value of aspirin in helping prevent heart attacks and strokes, so an easy-to-take formula helps ensure that people will actually take a low dose aspirin everyday - no matter how merry the season.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Aspirin should not be taken on a daily basis without first discussing it with your health care provider.