What Using Aspirin Every Day Does to Your Body
Taking an aspirin daily can be a lifesaving option for some and lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke, but for others it can cause serious health issues like stomach bleeding and more. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience who explains what to know about aspirin. However, before deciding if taking one every day is right for you, speak to your physician, do your research and get the facts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What is Aspirin Taken for and What Should People Know Beforehand?
Marchese says, "Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid or ASA, is in the class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs). It can reduce swelling and pain from inflammation, such as after injury, infection or immune response. It also helps to reduce fevers. Many people use aspirin to relieve headaches, menstrual pain, arthritis, dental pain and muscle soreness. Aspirin reduces the formation of blood clots, as well, and can prevent heart attacks in people with a history of chest pain or previous cardiac events. This mechanism can prevent strokes caused by blood clots but may be dangerous in the event of a hemorrhagic stroke caused by bleeding in the brain."
How Does Aspirin Work?
Marchese tells us, "Aspirin works by blocking a group of hormone-like lipids known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins work like switches that regulate the inflammatory and pain response at the side of tissue damage or infection and form blood clots or contract vessel walls at the site of damaged blood vessels."
What's the Upside to Taking Aspirin?
According to Marchese, "The upside to aspirin is that it can quickly reduce pain from tissue damage or inflammation. It's relatively safe and affordable for most people without a prescription and can be used in various ways through dose management."
What's the Downside to Taking Aspirin?
"Unfortunately, aspirin doesn't selectively target "bad" prostaglandins" Marchese says, "Some prostaglandins protect the stomach lining from the acid used in digestion. By blocking those helpful prostaglandins, aspirin can cause stomach bleeding and is considered more harmful to the stomach than all other NSAIDs."
What Taking Aspirin Every Day Can do to Your Body
Marchese explains, "Taking aspirin daily can lower the risk of heart attack or embolic stroke if you have a history of cardiac disease. However, it can also increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. The American College of Cardiology states that adults over 70 who have not had a prior heart attack should not take aspirin, especially if they have a higher bleeding risk. Unfortunately, half of the adults over age 70 in the U.S. without heart disease reported taking aspirin daily. Daily low-dose aspirin, commonly 81 mg, is the recommended limit for heart attack or stroke prevention. Before starting or stopping a daily aspirin regimen, consult your doctor about whether you're at risk for heart attack, stroke or bleeding disorders. Patients on daily aspirin must inform their providers before surgery or dental work to prevent excess bleeding."
Can Aspirin Interact with Other Medications?
Marchese shares, "Because aspirin has many effects on blood vessels and clot formation, consult your doctor first if you are taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec) or anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin) and heparin. In these cases, aspirin can adversely affect heart rate or increase bleeding. Aspirin can also interact with beta-blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), and propranolol (Inderal), as well as diuretics ('water pills') used for diabetes or edema."
Tips People Should Know About Taking Aspirin
Marchese says, "If you are taking aspirin as an anticoagulant, and you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next pill. Never take a double dose instead. People should expect side effects such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and heartburn, especially if they take other NSAIDs. Watch for signs of serious illness, including rash, hives, swelling in the face or throat, changes in breathing or heart rate, ringing in the ears and blood in the vomit or stools."
How Effective is Aspirin?
According to Marchese, "Aspirin is more effective as an antiplatelet or anticoagulant than a pain reliever. Many modern pain relievers such as Tylenol, Motrin and Naproxen last longer and have fewer toxic effects on the stomach. Better drugs are available for anti-inflammatory effects, but few other drugs have as many simultaneous effects as aspirin."
Don't Take Multiple NSAIDs at Once
Marchese warns, "Never take multiple types of NSAIDs simultaneously; wait about eight to 12 hours. They can counteract each other and cause heavy damage to your stomach. Always consult a physician before taking any new medication, even something that appears safe, like aspirin."