A heart attack is not something that starts and ends within minutes; rather it is an ongoing event. The damage to your heart and body can be minimized by taking proper steps the minute the heart attack begins. The first thing you need to do is call 911 for help. Then, you may to take an aspirin.
How Does Aspirin Benefit the Heart?When you cut yourself, the platelets clump together to make a blood clot and to seal the wound. This clumping action is useful since it stops the bleeding. However, if platelets build up on a small blood vessel, such as coronary artery, which is already narrowed due to heart disease, they can form blood clots. Clots cause blocking of normal blood flow in vessels that supplies oxygen to the heart, which, eventually, results a heart attack or stroke. Aspirin dampens the clot-forming process by making blood platelets less sticky. This, in turn, lowers the odds of an artery blockage and prevents the risk of a fatal heart attack.
How Aspirin Works?During a heart attack, plaque, substances that accumulate on the inner walls, rupture in the coronary artery. Once this rupture occurs, the body thinks there is an injury and calls upon platelets. The platelets go to work triggering a blood clot, similar to cutting a finger. As the minutes tick by, the clot gets bigger. It continues to get larger until the artery is completely blocked. Blood no longer flows to the area of the heart that the artery is serving. Oxygen is no longer being carried to the heart by the blood. Without oxygen, this area of the heart starts to die. This is when a heart attack begins.
Inflammation is the body's natural response to infections and injuries. But, it is also a component for building-up of plaque. Aspirin prevents the plaque forming process by blocking the function of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase, which helps make a chemical called prostaglandin (a hormone-like substance that facilitates the inflammatory response). However, prostaglandins don't just trigger the inflammatory reaction, some of them can also cause the blood platelets to clump together and form clots. When aspirin blocks cyclooxygenase, this, in turn, inhibits the production of prostaglandins. Thus, aspirin prevents the formation of blood clots, as well.
Should I Take an Aspirin During a Heart Attack?
According to American Heart Association, aspirin isn't usually instructed during a stroke, because all heart attacks are not caused by blood clots. Ruptured blood vessels can also cause some strokes. The organization recommends that you shouldn't do anything before calling 911, as aspirin could actually make the bleeding from ruptured vessels more severe.Yes, you may take an aspirin to reduce heart damage during a heart attack.
If you take an aspirin within the first 30 minutes, you will actually slow down the clumping of platelets and the formation of blood clots. This will help keep the flow of blood through the vessels, supplying the necessary oxygen to the heart. By taking aspirin, you may reduce the chances of severe damage resulting from a heart attack.
During a heart attack, chew one standard 325-milligram aspirin slowly, rather than swallowing the tablet. However, do not chew or break tablets or capsules that are extended-release -- swallow them whole.
Can I Take an Aspirin a Day?
In 2012, a large-scale population-based cohort study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that daily intake of 300 milligrams or less of aspirin increased the incidence rate of major stomach or brain bleeding by 55 percent, greater than earlier research suggested.No, daily aspirin therapy isn't for everyone. Review of data from clinical trials does not support a daily low dose of aspirin as a preventive medicine for strokes.
Just like you would for any other type of medication, be sure you ask your doctor prior to starting an aspirin therapy. If aspirin is taken once a day without a doctor's consent, it can increase the risk of stomach ulcers and may cause abdominal bleeding. The once daily low dose is also not recommended for women over 60 or men over 50 who have diabetes.
If you have already had a stroke or have never had a heart attack but are at a high risk of getting one, you might benefit from a daily aspirin regimen unless you have a history of bleeding or aspirin allergy. However, it's better talk with your doctor first to make sure it is safe for you.
What Are the Risks of Taking Aspirin?While aspirin benefits the heart inhibiting the clumping of platelets, it prevents the development of substances that keep the stomach's delicate lining. Although researchers have noted that aspirin is safe to use as directed, they can cause some side effects, as with any medication. Some side effects may include severe headache, nausea or vomiting, ringing in the ears, allergic reaction, stomach upset, stomach ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Image source: Staffan Enbom, CC-BY_2.0, via Flickr