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A new study on the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease has busted another popular heart health myth! I’m sure that most of you have heard the one about taking an aspirin a day to reduce the risk of heart attack.  Many Doctors have advised their patients to take an aspirin every day, but this recommendation has been repeated so often online, in the media and through self help information that many people have taken it on themselves to add a baby aspirin to their daily regimen without any advice from a hospital or a doctor recommendation.

Is this a good plan?  Does taking an aspirin a day really help reduce the risk of heart attack?

Instead of just self prescribing an answer, I read about this study done in Edinburgh Scotland by Dr. Gerry Fowlkes of the Wolfson Unit for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.

The study was recently presented at the European Society for Cardiology in Barcelona Spain.  Dr. Fowlkes and a few of his colleagues followed 3,000 men who had been diagnosed to be at very high risk for developing heart disease for an average of eight years.

This study was conducted like many others have been before where half of the study group was randomly chosen to take the test drug, in this case an aspirin a day, and the other half was given a placebo (This is a usually “sugar pill” or any dummy medication).

At the end of the eight year study the researchers looked back at the incidence of heart attack and stroke.  Guess what they found out…

There was no difference in the rate of heart attacks or stroke – or risk of death from any cause – between the two groups.

The simple conclusion of this study found that…

An aspirin a day did not decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke and had no discernable health benefits.

In fact, the group of 1500 men who were taking the aspirin a day had several health problems that either more common or made worse when compared to the 1500 men in the placebo group.

One example of this showed itself with major bleeds or internal bleeding.  There were 34 major bleeds in the aspirin group compared to only 20 in people taking the placebo.  And the number of cases of internal bleeding bad enough to require hospitalization was almost twice as many for the aspirin a day group compared to the placebo group.

The conclusion of this study was that for otherwise healthy people the risks of taking aspirin could outweigh the benefits, however the researchers also cautioned that for people who have already had a heart attack the benefits of taking an aspirin a day might outweigh the risks.  Most of these people, the ones who have already had a heart attacks, are under the care of a physician and have been prescribed the aspirin.  They are not self medicating.

But for those people interested in taking part in a preventative health care plan,  I would encourage them to look into natural alternates  to reduce their risk of heart disease, rather than relying on a man made chemicals and drugs.  Nature did a great job in creating this amazing thing we call our body.  I believe if we give our bodies what they need, they will maintain their health and if out of balance even heal themselves.

A good example of a natural approach to heart health is the use of omega-3 fatty acids.  Several recent clinical studies have shown that as little as 500 mg/day of omega-3 fatty acids, whether from fish or from supplements, can reduce the risk of a second heart attack in someone who has already had one heart attack by 30-40%.

Another study, the Landmark Nutritional Supplement Study showed that people who have used the Shaklee supplements for 20 years or more have 1/3 the incidence of angina, heart attack, stroke or congestive heart failure as do people using other company’s multivitamins or no supplements at all.

Its something to think about!