Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pros and Cons of Taking Aspirin

Many Baby Boomers and older senior citizens have heard the benefits of taking an aspirin a day, or at least several times a week, in order to protect their health.  However, did you know that there are also disadvantages to taking aspirin, and that aspirin therapy may not work for some people?

Pros of Taking Aspirin

Many doctors think of aspirin as a type of insurance policy against a number of illnesses.  According to Bottom Line Health, in their Spring 2012 edition, taking aspirin is protective against strokes and heart attacks.  Aspirin also lowers your risk of dying from some types of cancer by anywhere from 28% to 58%.  In one study, they report that people who take aspirin or other NSAIDs were 23% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Men were 25% less likely to develop moderate to severe prostrate enlargement.  These advantages make it sound as though everyone should immediately begin aspirin therapy.  Not so fast, however.

Cons of Taking Aspirin

While aspirin may sound like a miracle drug, there are also some problems associated with it.  Some people are aspirin resistant and those people can have double the chance of experiencing a heart attack or stroke if they take aspirin.  In addition, there are dangers even for people who are not aspirin resistant.  They can develop stomach irritation, heartburn, facial swelling, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, asthma attacks, ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.  Finally, aspirin use can increase your risk of developing cataracts by 44%, and can even cause you to go blind from macular degeneration.  With so many disadvantages, what should a person do?

See Your Doctor and Get Tested for Aspirin Resistance

Before beginning an aspirin regimen, talk to your doctor.  Your doctor will know your health history, and whether aspirin is more likely to be helpful or harmful.  If you develop any unusual symptoms, particularly stomach or vision problems, let your physician know right away.  In addition, ask your doctor to run a simple blood test called an optical platelet aggregation.  According to Bottom Line Health, most medical insurance policies cover it, and the test can tell you whether or not you are aspirin resistant.

As always, we are best equipped to make good decisions when we have the necessary information.

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