Health Matters… Taking Aspirin!
Should I be taking Aspirin? Simon trained as a doctor in Newcastle, has worked in the north east and Australia before coming to Yorkshire in 2000 to finish his GP training. He has worked at Springfield Surgery for the past eight years and lives in Ilkley with his wife (also a GP) and four children.
Patients have been asking for advice on taking aspirin as a preventative measure. Advice varies, and many of you are unsure what to do.
The approach used to be to prescribe aspirin for its ability to thin the blood. It was thought to reduce the risk of developing heart attacks or strokes, particularly for patients with high blood pressure or those with heart problems in their family.
However, aspirin is not always safe. Over a five-year period, one person in 667 would develop a serious stomach or other bleed.
Aspirin may also interact with anti-inflammatories (eg ibuprofen, diclofenac), warfarin and some blood pressure medications.
Doctors now think that the benefit of aspirin in reducing the risk of heart attacks or strokes is so small that these risks outweigh the benefits.
In the plus side aspirin may reduce the risk of dying from some cancers. But there doesn’t appear to be any benefit if you are under 55 years old.
SO, SHOULD I BE TAKING ASPIRIN?
YES – If your doctor has prescribed it for a previous heart attack or stroke, you should continue to take it.
NO – If you are allergic to it, or have had a stomach ulcer.
NO – if you are taking it to prevent heart attacks or strokes but have never had one.
POSSIBLY – if you’re over 55 and want to try and protect yourself from cancer.
Top 5 tips for a healthier lifestyle:
- Don’t smoke. The NHS runs many excellent clinics to help you stop
- Eat your five-a-day of fruit and vegetables
- Get more active – use the stairs not the lift, leave the car at home and walk
- Strenuous exercise that makes you out of breath for 15 minutes, three or four times a week, will greatly reduce your chance of heart disease
- Work out your BMI – keep it below 25.