Dr. Oz: Low-Dose Aspirin
Dr. Oz talked all about aspirin. 1 in 5 Americans take it regularly, but there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Today, about 60 million Americans take an aspirin a day to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Some research even suggests it may also help prevent some cancers. But another report out of Harvard has concluded that fewer than half of the people who could benefit from a daily low-dose aspirin take it, while many others take it when they shouldn’t.
Dr. Oz said he knows he’s part of the reason many people take it, because he’s recommended it on the show and even taken it himself. But these new reports that say many people who take it shouldn’t are concerning.
Dr. Oz: Are Low-Dose Aspirins Right For Me?
Dr. Holly Andersen and Dr, Ruth Oratz came by to talk to Dr. Oz about aspirin. Dr. Andersen said that an aspirin is not a cure-all. It’s a powerful medication that thins the blood and can cause serious, even life-threatening, stomach bleeding and ulcers.
For that reason, Dr. Oz developed a three-question quiz for people to take to decide if they should be taking a low-dose aspirin.
- Are you 50 or over?
- Do you have a family history of heart disease or cancer?
- And do you have risk factors for heart disease and cancer?
Dr. Oz: Are You 50 or Over?
If you’re 50 or over, you should consider taking a low-dose aspirin. Dr. Andersen said age 50 is a very important indicator for women for aspirin because the benefits increase as we get older and once women go through menopause, they start catching up with men with respect to heart disease risk. Heart disease risk also doubles with every decade and heart disease is the number one cause of death among women. More women have died from heart disease than men since 1984.
Dr. Oratz said women under 50 should still consider taking aspirin, because of the other two questions of the quiz.
Dr. Oz: Do You Have a Family History of Heart Disease or Cancer?
Do you have a family history of heart disease or cancer? If you’ve had grandparents or parents die from heart disease or stroke in their 80s and 90s, even in their 70s, doesn’t count. If you have family members who were younger than that, especially under the age of 60, it dramatically increases your risk of both heart disease and stroke. Dr. Oz wasn’t clear, but it seems like the family history of cancer is also more concerning, the younger the family member was.
Dr. Oz: Do You Have Risk Factors For Cancer and Heart Disease?
The risk factors for cancer are very similar to the risk factors for heart disease, including sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Having diabetes or high blood pressure while pregnant also increases the risk.
One woman in the audience who had risk factors, a family history, and was over 50, said her doctor told her not to take aspirin. Dr. Andersen said that was a great example of why it’s important to get personalized attention from a doctor concerning this. If you’re concerned about whether you should take it, always consult a doctor.
Dr. Oz: How to Take A Low-Dose Aspirin
Dr. Andersen said if you’re going to take aspirin, take a low-dose aspirin. In this country, that means baby aspirin, at 81 milligrams each. Dr. Oratz said coated aspirin may not protect against stomach bleeding. She said the most important thing is to take a full glass of water, because it helps dissolve the aspirin and helps prevent bleeding. Dr. Oz said he takes two baby aspirin, which is about 160 milligrams.