Posts Tagged ‘Strokes’
There is a warning out against the use of aspirin in healthy individuals for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes. I find it funny that any healthy person would want to take medication needlessly anyway. I have a hard enough time trying to take a vitamin a day. And aspirin is not a benign drug.
Aspirin has been in use for ages. It’s a pain reliever, an anti-platelet and an anti-inflammatory agent. It became part of the regimen for those with heart disease and strokes to prevent further problems. However, there are some negatives attributes to this simple drug. It may cause ulcers. Therefore, when the risk of bleeding from ulcers is greater than the risk from heart attack and strokes, doctors are cautious about recommending aspirin.
So, it would make sense that in a normal, healthy adult, prophylactic use of aspirin is not indicated and, even worse, may be dangerous. Not just the risk of ulcers – not everyone is prone to ulcers from aspirin. But, because it is a blood thinner due to its anti-platelet effects, bleeding from anywhere is a risk. This includes a bleeding, or haemorrhagic, stroke after a fall.
It’s unclear why anyone would be taking aspirin regularly. Perhaps, they’ve heard that it prevents heart attacks and strokes and have taken it upon themselves to reduce their own risk. Perhaps, their doctor had mistakenly advised them to do so. I have heard of doctors regularly advising those older than 50 to take an aspirin a day, regardless of their risk factors. Perhaps, now, they will think twice about doing so. That is not to say that they can’t take it for pain once in a while.
I cannot believe these experts (Professor Malcolm Law, Richard McManus, Jonathan Mant) are calling for everyone above the age of 55 to start taking blood pressure pills. One of them is a pioneer of the so-called “polypill”. Is he advocating the use of blood pressure pills because he has a financial stake in this? Isn’t there a conflict of interest?
Though others support him, there are some who reasonably point out that regardless of the safety profile of many blood pressure medicines, there are always potential side effects. If it didn’t have side effects, it would be the perfect pill, and no such medicine has yet been produced. Furthermore, most doctors I know would recommend dietary changes and exercise as the first steps to reduce blood pressure.
These so-called experts claim that beyond a certain age (what age?) we all have high blood pressure and would benefit from medicine to reduce strokes. How stupid is that? Not all have high blood pressure. In fact, many have very low blood pressures. These people need to start thinking about individuals rather than their pocket books.
New mothers have always been encouraged to try breastfeeding. Among the many traditional benefits cited for breastfeeding is the ability to quickly shed that excess weight from pregnancy. Of course, it is believed that all women are vain enough to induce them to lose weight by breastfeeding. I breastfed my babies, but it was not because of the weight loss issue. The most I ever weighed during pregnancy was 116 lbs. so it was not a big issue. Breastfeeding was easy and enjoyable. It created a bond that I feel could not have been accomplished by other means. I loved it and wished I could have done it longer. My first one I breastfed until she was eleven months, but the second was for only six months due to my developing mastitis. Of course, I had to supplement during both.
Besides the emotional and psychological benefits of breastfeeding, there are numerous health benefits. Breast milk is supposed to contain natural antibodies to protect babies from infections. In addition, it is purported to protect babies from obesity (a major issue these days and this finding may change), diabetes, and asthma. Some claim that breastfed babies are smarter but intelligence is hard to measure. For women, breastfeeding produces extra hormones that protect against breast and ovarian cancer as well as osteoporosis. Now research shows that breastfeeding may protect against heart disease and strokes.
The research, done by the University of Pittsburgh was based on surveys of 140,000 postmenopausal women. It shows that the benefits of breastfeeding lasted even up to 35 years out from the last episode of breastfeeding. Of course, there is a graduated level of benefit, with those breastfeeding for at least a year showing the highest advantage, but even one month of breastfeeding conferred some benefits. Despite these wonderful findings, one needs to be careful how to interpret the data. Perhaps there are other underlying factors that play a role. After all, a 35-year lapse opens up many possibilities. What about the women who breastfed and died? There are no statistics on them. Perhaps the next step should be a prospective study of women who breastfeed and those who do not. They should be followed forward in time to see what they die of and when.
Despite the weaknesses in the study, there are the other benefits of breastfeeding to consider. Those already known should be enough to encourage women to consider breastfeeding.