Heart disease is still Canada’s number one killer. What doctors regret is that most heart attacks could have been prevented. But people still are not getting the message.
An important part of the Heart Disease Prevention message is to use a
Most of the time this means taking
an ASA a day
Usually, we recommend a baby dosage, which means
ASA 81 mg once/day
This is an incredibly simple but powerful tablet to take. This pill alone, which is not expensive,
Reduces your chance of a heart attack by 30%.
That is huge, and an important part of the Heart Disease Prevention message. Some patients are recommended even higher ASA doses, even up to ASA 325 mg once/day. But this is something you should talk with a doctor about. It is also important to note that some people, because they have sensitive stomachs or perhaps because of allergies, can NOT take ASA. People who have stomach ulcers or who have a bleeding tendency are usually NOT recommended to take AN ASA A DAY.
Another point, if you are going to take AN ASA A DAY as protection, make sure that it is ENTERIC COATED, which means that it has a coating to help protect the stomach. Otherwise people can rapidly develop stomach problems with AN ASA A DAY.
For people who HAVE ALREADY HAD a cardiovascular even like a heart attack or a stroke, or who have very bad circulation in the legs (usually because of smoking, called PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE), we recommend an even stronger kind of BLOOD THINNER.
This is known as an Anti-Platelet tablet. Platelets are like tiny microscopic pieces of adhesive tape floating around the bloodstream. They are responsible for helping to plug up, helping to clot, any leak or tear. This is a good thing. But sometimes they lead to clots and plugs in the wrong places; for example, in arteries, in the blood vessels themselves, and this can lead to a
•BLOOD CLOT CAUSING A HEART ATTACK, STROKE, OR LEG CIRCULATION EMERGENCY
Clot formation is a natural defense mechanism of the body, which works to protect you from excessive bleeding in the case of an injury. When you cut yourself, particles in your blood called platelets stick together to form a clot. Clot formation can also be triggered by the rupture of plaque (a buildup of cholesterol and other materials) inside the walls of arteries. When platelets clump together on or near the plaque, they can form a clot that may limit or completely stop the flow of blood to various parts of the body.
If a clot forms in an artery supplying blood to the heart, heart-related chest pain or a heart attack can occur. If a clot forms in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke can occur.
For patients who have already had significant blood vessel problems, that’s why we recommend this agent, the Anti-Platelet tablet, as an even stronger BLOOD THINNER.
It is important to note that
• Blood Pressure medications and Cholesterol medications also help to reduce Heart Attacks and Strokes, but they are NOT BLOOD THINNERS.
Medications like Anti-Platelet tablets are used in addition to Blood Pressure medications and Cholesterol medications. Medications like Anti-Platelet tablets work together with Blood Pressure medications and Cholesterol medications to help prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes. In some circumstances, we even recommend that patients use both tablets,
• ASA + Anti-Platelet tablets
But this is a special circumstance, usually reserved for patients who have had an Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS):
• Heart-related chest pain, known as UNSTABLE ANGINA or
• a Certain type of heart attack, known as a nonQ-wave MI or NSTEMI heart attack
This requires close medical monitoring.
So, remember, one of the best things you can do protect yourself AGAINST A HEART ATTACK, STROKE, OR LEG CIRCULATION EMERGENCY is to use a BLOOD THINNER a day, usually ASA.
TAKE THIS MESSAGE TO HEART.
Dr. Shafiq Qaadri is a Toronto family physician and Continuing Medical Education lecturer. www.doctorQ.ca