Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note, where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health.
This week, I want to talk about low dose aspirin. It’s something I’ve been recommending for years, and have been taking myself for many many years. I’m 66 at the time of this writing, and I started taking low dose aspirin at age 40. I’m glad I started it then.
A 81mg coated aspirin is what I take.
We all know that taking a daily aspirin will go a long way towards preventing heart disease. It acts that way because it prevents blood clots. It makes blood more slippery, which means it is less likely to clot.
When you have a heart attack or a stroke, what happens is you form a blood clot that then can block off the arteries, or cause an arrhythmia.
The thing about aspirin, and one of the reasons I want to talk about it in this Note, is that it gets popular, and then some study comes out saying that it’s not as effective as originally thought.
The point is, taking a daily low dose aspirin is a safe way to prevent cardiac deaths, the number one cause of death in the world. Especially in the United States.
The second thing about aspirin, and I’ve been talking about it for years, is that it’s well established that low dose aspirin is effective at preventing colon cancer. Colon cancer, if you combine men and women, is the second leading cause of cancer death. It’s fairly common.
A little over 50,000 Americans die each year from colon cancer.
This is another reason why I recommend you get a colonoscopy at age 50 as a routine screen. If that colonoscopy is clear, with no polyps or history, then you only need to get one once every 10 years.
You need to get one sooner if you have symptoms like rectal bleeding, change in bowel habits, or family history.
For example, if your father got diagnosed with colon cancer at age 50, then you should get your first colonoscopy at age 35. You would want to get the colonoscopy 15 years before a first degree relative had their diagnosis.
In general, it’s a slow growing cancer, which is why it’s so preventable. If you have a benign polyp, then they can snip it off and get the pathology and tell you what the risks are.
Get your colonoscopy!
The reason I want to talk about low dose aspirin in this Note is because of colon cancer prevention. There’s a lot of new evidence out there. It’s already been established that it does cause prevention of colon cancer. But the thing they found out is that it depends on when you start taking the low dose aspirin.
So you don’t want to wait until you’re 70 to take low dose aspirin.
Typically, you want to start in your 50’s and 60’s for prevention of colon cancer.
I recommend starting it at age 40 for both heart prevention and colon cancer prevention, unless you have an ulcer or something.
The reason they say you might want to be careful after the age of 70 for cardiac prevention is because of the chance you fall and have a brain bleed. If you’re taking low dose aspirin, it would be more likely that you would bleed, which is true. So, taking it at that age really depends on the type of shape you’re in at 70 and 80.
If you’re strong and in good shape, then just continue taking it.
It’s much better if you start early taking this low dose aspirin. But if you’re 70 and diagnosed with colon cancer, you should still keep taking it. The chance of metastasis and you doing bad with it is going to be much lower if you’re taking the low dose aspirin. It’s going to be better.
The word is unless you have an ulcer or a bleeding tendency, just continue it.
If your elderly mom is frail and falling a lot, then maybe they should get off of it.
It’s a simple, cheap 81mg aspirin.
Take it the rest of your life unless the dangers of falling are greater than the risk of not taking it.