Is aspirin necessary to treat heart disease?

5 answers | Last updated: Dec 07, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father was recently diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Should he be taking a daily dose of aspirin?

Expert Answers

Barry M. Massie is chief of cardiology at the San Francisco V.A. Medical Center.

Yes. Aspirin may prevent blood clots from forming in the arteries of the heart, the primary cause of heart attacks in patients with coronary heart disease. I recommend taking a baby aspirin (81 mg) -- higher doses aren't more effective and cause more side effects such as bleeding.

However, taking aspirin is just one of the ways your father can reduce his risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Most people with coronary heart disease also need a cholesterol-lowering medication (a statin), but that depends on the lipid levels in his blood. You and your father may want to discuss this with his physician.

If your father smokes, he needs to stop, and his systolic blood pressure (the top number) should be brought below 140 mm Hg (or below 130 if he's diabetic). Medications that lower blood pressure and may also prevent complications of coronary disease include angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and, especially if he has had a heart attack, beta-blockers.

Many studies have shown that fully implementing these preventative approaches -- in addition to a healthy diet, weight loss in overweight patients, and moderate exercise -- can greatly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people with coronary heart disease.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Well what about if you have a breathing problem? can that afect your heart to?

A fellow caregiver answered...

I would like to know exactly how asprin helps a person decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease, not just BP and stroke. Thanks.

Jcbluze answered...

I had a 90% block in my right coronary artery at age 62. I was supposed to die. I lived because my body grew a collateral arterial system, five arteries from below the block directly to my heart, that brought enough blood to my heart to keep it from stopping. If I were younger, my body would not have had the time to grow it, and I'd have died. I had so many detrimental side effects from medications after my angioplasty that I could hardly walk or stay awake, much less work; tiredness, fatigue, dizziness, disorientation, chest pain! Listed among side effects were heart attack, muscle deterioration leading to death, and death itself (as a side effect). After six months I found a cardiologist whose education and intelligence I respected. He told me I can stop Plavix after six months, but it's better to wait a year. I just stopped. I kept taking 81 grain aspirin until I heard the Duke and The Doctor national radio broadcast. She said repeated daily aspirin can cause pancreas problems and even cancer. I stopped aspirin for the most part but take one periodically no more than twice a week. Insecurity! What I did instead of taking all the awful medications: I lost weight: 20 pounds on a light-boned six foot frame down to 195 from 215, a more normal weight for me. I did it by eating salads, melons, and fresh fruit every day, most often as my entire meal! I stopped bread and pasta, mostly! I ate raw garlic: chopped finely it is easily ingested in salads, added to soup after cooking, in mashed potatoes or potato salad, on fish, chicken, meats especially with soy sauce or oyster sauce (not butter!)! Blood Pressure always comes down with weight loss and fresh garlic ingestion! Garlic cleans the blood! I reduce animal foods to a few times a week. For the uninformed: only animals make cholesterol! It's lubricant for the blood system. There is zero cholesterol in all vegetables, fruits, melons, even fatty ones like avocado and nuts! This greatly helos with cholesterol levels, but I don't believe cholesterol is the main problem. Plaque is. Without plaque, cholesterol has no place to attach nor to build up! See EDTA below. I have been medication free and of normal weight (with some ups and downs because I like my pasta - delicious but very bad for you despite propaganda from Italian chefs! Pasta is all white starch with no nutrition at all! You just gain weight if you're not a marathon runner!) I also eat oatmeal, not every day because it's high in calories, but periodically, and I put curry, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and of course chopped raw garlic, in with the honey. It makes it a spicy, tasty, interesting food and adds variety to my diet. All herbs and spices are amazingly healthy for you! Learn to love spice! If you never ate hot foods, start slowly with just a little, and increase spice gradually over time! You'll rediscover the joy of eating! A great way to start is with mild to medium salsa! It's a fresh tomato and herb product, no calories, that goes with everything, and tastes great! if you sweat on your head, good! Your blood is flowing, arteries expanding, and you're eliminating waste from your body! I've stopped Plavix, Crestor, two BP meds, and most of my aspirin intake. I swim regularly, snorkel actually because I moved to The Philippines to live on the beach 12 months a year for the nature and exercise! Find an exercise you love to do: Tennis, basketball, just walking around the neighborhood! Walk your dog yourself! Lift light weights, you'll love it! Building strength is amazingly fulfilling, not to mention healthy! Bottom line: Lose weight, eat healthily, melons, fruits, veggies - all raw; eat garlic raw always on your favorite foods, eat oatmeal with spices, garlic too, for variety and flavor, exercise! It will save your life, and add quality to your life. You'll be happier than you've been since you were a kid! Note: Of course you will cook veggies and garlic too. Just always add it raw to your favorite foods, chopped fine, after cooking. Also use ginger, for flavor and health! Limit or stop cooking with oil. Only use Extra Virgin Olive oil raw on salads! Don't cook with it! If you must cook in oil, use only coconut oil! It doesn't break down, will not raise your triglycerides, is easily ingested. The big food companies lied about coconut oil because it's better, healthier than all the rest to cook in, and they couldn't stand the profit loss! Still, it's better to steam, and steaming/poaching is a gentler way to cook, temperatures are lower, and all food tastes better too! You get more natural flavor from all foods, and can always add sauces made separately! Hint: crush garlic cloves with flat of knife - skin comes off easliy, then chop! Have a happy healthy life! I do! ADDENDUM: I am now taking EDTA Chelation therapy to clean all plaque and cholesterol buildup out of my arteries. I'm using the least expensive product that costs only $199 per six week program. It is also the best, most effective EDTA Chelation product. Google EDTA Chelation, you'll find it. It's a good company that just sells their product. No one resells or makes comission. It's not Dr. Cutler who sells costly inferior product! I don't know if I can name it here so I don't. You can find it. Google EDTA CHELATION RENEW! It's the only product that says it's no good to take mineral supplements while you take the EDTA! Instead you replenish minerals after the six week program. It makes sense because minerals, plaque is mostly calcium, is exactly what the EDTA eliminates from the body. Adding them while trying to eliminate them greatly reduces effectiveness! EDTA Chelation has been used to eliminate metal poisoning like lead and mercury in hospitals by the medical profession since the late forties, with no side effects! Calcium is a metal, the primary ingredient in arterial plaque, that is the cause of arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, intermittent claudication, strokes, and heart attacks, among many other health issues! Love Health Happiness JC

Samuel50 answered...

You should not start aspirin therapy without first consulting your physician. Because aspirin thins the blood, it can cause several complications. Most heart attacks and strokes occur when the blood supply to a part of your heart muscle or brain is blocked. This usually starts with atherosclerosis, a process in which deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. This buildup is called plaque.