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Check individual risks and needs before using statins and daily Aspirin for heart diseases prevention

August 10, 2012

What you should know

Heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are major causes of disability and death in the Mid-South. These diseases can lead to heart attacks, chronic high blood pressure and strokes. Poor circulation in legs and feet and breathlessness from congestive heart disease are also common.

The risks of heart and vascular disease can be reduced greatly by a healthful lifestyle. Healthy living includes wise eating, regular exercise, and stress reduction. It requires clean air (no smoking) and limited alcohol consumption.

CVD is the leading cause of adult deaths in the U.S. The most preventable form of CVD is coronary heart disease.

Many people have CVD but do not know it. Some have occasional chest pains, shortness of breath or sleep problems. They might learn after getting medical tests that they have severely narrow or blocked arteries.

Despite healthful lifestyles, some people are still at risk of developing vascular disease. They have added risks, such as a family history of CVD or other conditions like diabetes. Some have high total cholesterol or very high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, often called “bad cholesterol”).

Many clinicians recommend a daily aspirin, a statin drug, or other medications to reduce moderate or high CVD risk.

Cholesterol can build up, and narrow or block arteries. Blood pressure can increase. Narrow vessels are also more likely to trap blood clots. When blood flow is restricted, muscles and organs can become permanently damaged.

Aspirin and statin drugs have proven to be effective preventive therapy for many people with CVD and CHD risks.

Aspirin reduces the formation of blood clots in most people. Aspirin can also reduce inflammation. Aspirin is a very cost-effective therapy. It is a very inexpensive, widely available drug. Aspirin is often used as an immediate treatment after a stroke to avoid another stroke. Low-dose aspirin may also reduce the risk of a first heart attack.

The American Heart Association recommends daily aspirin for patients with known CVD. This recommendation excludes patients who have other problems such as a risk of bleeding in the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage) or gastrointestinal bleeding.

Statin drugs are potent medicines used to reduce cholesterol. They block a substance in the body that is needed to make cholesterol. There are several statin drugs. Some are generic. A few are better at lowering LDL. Minor complications such as muscle aches might go away with a different statin drug or a different dosage.

If your total cholesterol is 240 mg/dl or more or your LDL is 130 or higher, your doctor might suggest statin therapy.

Effective statin therapy requires medication for many years. Cholesterol usually rises when patients stop taking it.

The vitamin niacin, whether immediate or sustained release, also helps some people reduce their cholesterol.

Clinicians must evaluate their patients’ risks before prescribing drugs. The health risks of some patients can go up and not down with daily aspirin or a statin. Daily aspirin could do more harm than good in some without CVD risks.

Many clinicians agree that aspirin and statin drugs should be used when their benefits outweigh their risks. Successful therapy to reduce CHD and CVD risks depends on appropriate use of the drugs. Not everyone is in agreement about who should take them. A person’s age group, sex and other health conditions are factors.

What you should do

Talk to your care provider about appropriate daily medicine. Ask if you should be taking daily aspirin or a statin drug. If you are middle age and have CVD risks, these drugs could be very effective yet inexpensive therapies.

Do not rely only on drugs to prevent heart and vascular problems. Improve your lifestyle today and every day. Make healthful behavior a habit. If you are overweight, lose weight. Don’t smoke. Get daily exercise. Eat mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, broiled or poached fish, and unprocessed, low-fat, low-salt foods. Limit your alcohol intake.

Do not decide to take daily aspirin or someone’s statin drug on your own. You must know your individual risks before starting any preventive therapy. Get professional medical advice and a checkup first.

Get routine follow-up checkups to see how your medication is working and whether you have any complications. A small percentage of people have serious side effects from statins and aspirin.

Control your blood pressure. Your care provider might prescribe other medication to treat high blood pressure, such as a diuretic, ACE inhibitor, calcium channel blocker or angiotensin receptor blocker.

If you have diabetes, manage it every day and at every meal. Diabetes raises your CVD risks.

Article source: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/jul/09/check-individual-risks-and-needs-before-using/?partner=yahoo_feeds


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