An Aspirin a Day Keeps Problems Away
By Ashley L. Reed, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate
The number one killer of all patients with diabetes is heart disease or stroke. In fact, if you have diabetes you have a two to four times greater risk of dying from these complications. Thankfully, there are ways to decrease these possibly fatal effects. By taking an aspirin every day, in addition to controlling your diabetes, you can protect your heart and prolong your life.
Taking an aspirin every day has been shown to be beneficial for both first or second heart attacks or stroke. Studies have shown that aspirin can decrease the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke by 32%. Although this statistic sounds good, only 22% of patients with diabetes are taking advantage of it and taking a daily aspirin.
Low-dose aspirin therapy is recommended for patients with diabetes who have already suffered from heart or stroke complications or those at high risk. High-risk patients include those who smoke, have high blood pressure, are obese, or have a family history of heart problems. The low-dose aspirin that is generally recommended is the 81 mg dose or baby aspirin. Studies have shown that taking a single 81 mg dose is just as effective for preventing complications as taking the 325 mg dose.
With all medications, there are some risks. Taking aspirin can cause internal bleeding, stomach upset, and ulcers. Aspirin can also irritate some medical conditions like asthma. In addition, aspirin can interact with several medications, such as blood thinners. For these reasons, patients should always consult with their doctor and pharmacist before starting any aspirin therapy.
When you do get the "ok" from your doctor to start taking aspirin, make sure you select the right medication. First, make sure you have the right drug; aspirin is not the same thing as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Once you have the right drug, make sure that you have selected the right strength. Your doctor may recommend that you take the 81 mg dose or the 325 mg dose each day. If you have any problems identifying the correct aspirin therapy, ask your pharmacist to help you.
Taking an aspirin every day and controlling your diabetes may help reduce your chances of dying from your first or second heart attack or stroke. Remember to always let your doctor and pharmacist know what medications—prescription and non-prescription—you are currently taking, before starting aspirin therapy. If you have any questions, please see your pharmacist.
1. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes: Heart disease and stroke. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-heart-disease-stroke.jsp. Accessed on 07/11/07.
2. American Diabetes Association. Aspirin therapy in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;(27)S72-S73.
3. Bayer HealthCare. Know your healthy steps. Tarrytown, NY 10591. 2006;6.
Reprinted with the permission of Rite Aid for Diabetes. http://www.riteaiddiabetes.com/secondary/featuredArticle.aspx. Date accessed 10/15/07.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, M.D., 04/08
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