Pop an aspirin. Prevent clots. Save your life. This tried-and-true heart-health mantra has been around for as long as I can remember. Aspirin therapy is a popular and inexpensive approach to help keep blood thin and prevent the clots that lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Aspirin therapy’s appeal is its ability to block the formation of thromboxane A2. Thromboxane constricts blood vessels and allows platelets to clump together and form clots at the site of wounds. The thinking behind prescribing aspirin therapy for those at risk for heart disease is that if you reduce the amount of thromboxane produced, you reduce the odds of a blood clot forming and, subsequently, a heart attack or stroke.
Should Your Efforts to Prevent Heart Disease Include Aspirin Therapy?
Although some doctors prescribe aspirin therapy for both primary and secondary heart attack prevention, I don't recommend aspirin for primary prevention. That's because while aspirin can prevent clots from forming, it doesn't change atherosclerotic plaque which is the underlying cause of heart disease. But for secondary prevention, meaning after a heart attack occurs or for someone who has been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, a daily aspirin can be lifesaving.
How much aspirin should you take? There is much debate about the most effective minimum dosage. For example, does a patient need one low-dose aspirin (81 mg), two low-dose aspirins, or one full-dose aspirin (325 mg)? This confusion comes out of research suggesting that not all patients respond to aspirin therapy in the same way. In fact, some patients don’t respond to aspirin at all. They’re called “aspirin-resistant.”
Take the Aspirin Resistance Test
All of these challenges associated with aspirin therapy can be overcome with a new test called AspirinWorks. A simple urine sample can show your doctor whether aspirin therapy is effective for you. This test measures the level of 11-dehydrothromboxane B2, an end product of thromboxane metabolism. Go to http://www.aspirinworks.com to learn more about the aspirin resistance test.
If your test results show a low level of thromboxane metabolites in your system, it means your prescribed aspirin therapy is working. If your results are higher up the scale, you would likely benefit from increasing your dosage. However, if you’re already taking the maximum dosage of aspirin, you’re probably aspirin-resistant. In that case, it’s best to talk to your doctor about stopping your daily aspirin regimen so as not to risk the gastrointestinal side effects. Though that may sound frightening, you need to keep in perspective that if you’re aspirin-resistant, that daily pill wasn’t doing you any good anyway.
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Heart Disease Tests
What other heart disease tests should you consider? Get information on the array of heart disease tests I use when evaluating and treating my own patients.
Undergoing heart disease testing but unsure what your scores indicate? Get my Sinatra Smart Zone values for a wide array of heart health tests to ensure optimal heart health.
Want to read detailed questions and answers about different heart disease tests? Check out the Q&A section of my Heart Disease Tests Health Center.