Sign Up Now For
HEALTHbeat
Our FREE E-mail Newsletter

In each issue of HEALTHbeat:

  • Get trusted advice from the doctors at Harvard Medical School
  • Learn tips for living a healthy lifestyle
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in health
  • Receive special offers on health books and reports
  • Plus, receive your FREE Bonus Report, Living to 100: What's the secret?

[ Maybe Later ] [ No Thanks ]

Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School
Learn How

New Releases

You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Daily low-dose aspirin can prevent heart attack and stroke but is often misused, from the January 2014 Harvard Heart Letter

Aspirin is often hailed as a wonder drug, thanks to its ability to help stave off heart attacks and clot-caused strokes. But fewer than half of people who could benefit from a daily low-dose aspirin take it, while many others take it when they shouldn't, reports the January 2014 Harvard Heart Letter.

If you don't have heart disease, but do have high blood pressure, diabetes, or other risk factors for heart disease, don't automatically assume that taking aspirin every day is a good idea. "A lot of people take aspirin who really shouldn't," says Dr. Christopher Cannon, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Everyone assumes aspirin is harmless, but it isn't." For some, the downsides of aspirin—mainly gastrointestinal bleeding—outweigh its benefits.

Aspirin makes blood platelets less "sticky," and so less like to clump in the bloodstream, an early stage of blood clot formation. Most heart attacks happen when a clot blocks blood flow in a vessel that feeds the heart. Dampening the clot-forming process lowers the odds of a blockage.

At the same time, aspirin inhibits the formation of substances that protect the stomach's delicate lining. As a result, stomach upset or bleeding in the stomach and intestines can occur. Anyone taking daily low-dose aspirin who notices stomach irritation or upset should call his or her doctor, urges Dr. Cannon.

Taking aspirin with food may help. So can taking medications to treat heartburn, which help protect the stomach. These include simple antacids like Tums, acid blockers like famotidine (generic, Pepcid, Fluxid), or proton-pump inhibitors such as omeprazole (generic, Prilosec, Zegerid). A pill that combines aspirin and omeprazole may soon be available.

Before starting daily aspirin therapy, it's best to consult with a trusted doctor to weigh the risks and benefits. In addition to heart disease risk, important considerations include other health conditions, other medications taken, and even weight.

Read the full-length article: "Answers about aspirin"

Also in the January 2014 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter:

  • Lower heart attack and stroke risk with a flu shot
  • Health tips for former smokers
  • Understanding cardiovascular pain

The Harvard Heart Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at www.health.harvard.edu/heart or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

XXX

Media: Contact Kristen Rapoza at hhpmedia@hms.harvard.edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.

Also in this issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch

  • Total hip replacement and the older man: More options than you really need
  • On call: What stop smoking aid works best?
  • On call: Urine testing no longer routine
  • Acetaminophen safety: Be cautious but not afraid
  • Sugar: How much is too much?
  • Better health with new digital devices
  • Screening for lung cancer: Are you a candidate for this test?
  • In the journals: Could cholesterol-lowering drugs cause cataracts?
  • In the journals: No long-term gain from early dementia testing
  • In the journals: Exercise benefit equals drugs for some health problems

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.