by THOMAS on July 18, 2014 • 9:11 am
You’ve no doubt heard of doctors prescribing aspirin or “baby aspirin” as a prevention for heart attacks. I know I have several patients who are taking aspirin that was prescribed by their primary care physician as a preventative measure for heart attacks. This has always interested me as I have found no evidence either historic or otherwise that points to any benefit whatsoever of taking aspirin as a preventative measure for heart disease. There are actually several studies/ trials that show aspirin to be of absolutely no benefit in the prevention of a heart attack. The first such trial was conducted by a hematologist by the name of J.R. O’Brien who found no benefit in the use of aspirin.
Then there was another study by the British Medical Research council on the use of aspirin to prevent post-surgery thrombosis (clotting). Again there was no benefit found.
Next came two trials in England on the use of aspirin in the prevention of heart attack. Both of these trails showed no benefit in the use of aspirin.
In 1974 in the USA, the National Institute of Health began a trial on the use of aspirin to prevent heart attack. This was a huge trial and the results were even worse. No only was aspirin found to be of no benefit but aspirin did cause ulcer like pain, and bleeding of the stomach and intestines. Nice!
Finally, the “Physicians Health Study”, a trial in the USA was said to have been a tremendous success! It was called “astounding and incredible”. There was no reduction in fatal heart attacks and there was no increase in survival. There was a 40% reduction in non-fatal heart attacks. However, it was actually Bufferin and not aspirin that was actually used in this trial. Bufferin contains aspirin and some magnesium. Researchers have recently concluded that it is more likely that it was the magnesium that was preventing the heart attacks. Magnesium is a powerful antagonist to platelet adhesion. It acts as an anticoagulant prolonging clotting time. It will induce fibrinolysis (breaking up of adhesions between platelets). It is a vasodilator and it also induces prostacyclin production whereas aspirin inhibits beneficial prostacyclin. Prostacyclin is a naturally occurring vasodilator and inhibits platelet activity.
So in concluding, I can not find any reason for recommending aspirin as prevention for heart attacks. So if your physician recommends aspirin, simply tell him that you have read several studies that found no benefit to the use of aspirin, period!