Can aspirin reduce risk of second heart attack? What cardiologist says
If you are a heart attack survivor and your doctor has suggested you take aspirin, you should probably follow their advice. Here's why.
A new study by European Society of Cardiology has found that not taking aspirin when suggested by your cardiologist can lead to increased risk of a second heart attack and even death. The study was conducted on people aged 40 and above and who had a previous history of heart attack. Aspirin works as a blood thinner and prevents clot formation and blockages. If you are a heart attack survivor and your doctor has suggested you to take aspirin, you should probably follow their advice. However, in case your doctor hasn't recommended it, you must get their approval before starting any such medication. Besides, staying away from alcohol, smoking and controlling your blood pressure can also prevent re-occurrence of myocardial infarction or heart attack. (Also read: Patients who recognise their symptoms of heart attack are less likely to die in hospital: Study)
Role of aspirin in second heart attack prevention
Dr. Gajinder Kumar Goyal, Director Cardiology, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad says that heart attack survivors are at an increased risk of another such even and taking aspirin may play an important role in preventing clot formation.
"Large number of factors such as smoking, diabetes, unhealthy diet, genetics, lack of exercise, obesity and even air pollution may raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. Survivors of heart attacks and stroke are often at high risk of having subsequent events. Here taking aspirin may play a key role to cut the risk of recurrent heart attack as it works as a blood thinner, holding back small blood cells called platelets from forming clots. These clots may block arteries and lead to a reduction in the amount of oxygen-rich blood being delivered to vital organs. Such blockage can also become the cause of other complications, including a heart attack or stroke. It is advisable to avoid self-medication. It is strongly recommended to consult a doctor before having aspirin. Patient's medical history of cardiovascular disease and aspirin use is also investigated adequately before prescription," says Dr Goyal.
Dr Goyal warns that patients having bleeding or clotting disorder, an aspirin allergy, bleeding stomach ulcers or a history of gastrointestinal bleeding should avoid taking aspirin as it may cause the problem of bleeding, asthma and other health issues.
Measures to lower risk of a second heart attack
Dr Goyal suggests the following measures to curb risk of another heart attack for survivors:
Keep your blood pressure in check
Hypertension, or high blood pressure are most common risk factors for heart disease, hence it is advisable to do exercise for at least 30-45 minutes daily, having a balanced diet, not eating salt to keep hypertension or high blood pressure in check.
Say no to smoking
Stop smoking as the risk of having a heart attack and the risk of dying doubles when you smoke.
Keep your weight in check
Losing weight can also cut the risk of another heart attack. People who are obese or overweight require more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to their bodies which causes an increase in blood pressure.
Be regular with your medication
Take your medicine properly as prescribed by the doctor and keep in touch with the doctor on a regular basis.
Dr Goyal says that aspirin is only recommended for heart attack survivors and not to prevent such event.
"Aspirin is indicated if you already have heart disease, ischemic stroke or peripheral vascular disease. If we stop aspirin in these patients, then there is risk of recurrent events. But aspirin is not indicated for primary prevention of heart and other vascular diseases," says the expert.