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Aspirin and Antioxidants Might Not Help Prevent Heart Disease for Diabetics

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Friday, October 17, 2008

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- The long-established belief that aspirin helps prevent heart attacks, especially in high risk groups like diabetics, has been strongly challenged in a recent study. Aspirin, as well as antioxidant supplements, were found to have no effect on preventing heart attacks in diabetics.

Taking aspirin daily has long been believed to have the benefit of thinning out one's blood, helping to prevent cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks, strokes and blood clots) in the long-term. The numbers of doctors recommending this method of prevention, and naturally the number of individuals taking the drug, has been on the rise. The most common side effect with prolonged use is stomach ulcers, or gastrointestinal bleeding.

Antioxidants, which limit oxidation by eliminating free radicals, have recently been believed to reduce oxidative stress within one's body, a condition closely associated with heart disease and other conditions. It's also been supported through research that antioxidants might protect against neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer, though definitive research is still lacking. Antioxidants can be found in numerous fruits, such as pomegranates and blueberries, and are widely available as supplements.

Despite the popularly held above beliefs, researchers found that for two of the highest risk groups, diabetics and those suffering from asymptomatic arterial disease, aspirin and antioxidants do not help prevent against heart attacks.

1,276 patients with diabetes or arterial disease were given aspirin, antioxidants, or both, or just placebos. All the patients were over 40 years of age, and the study was conducted over and eight year period.

Over the eight years, 116 patients taking aspirin had heart attacks, compared to 117 taking placebos. Similar results were found between antioxidant and placebo groups, indicating no real benefit.

It's the aim of the study authors to dispel the common notion that especially aspirin, which has potentially dangerous side effects, is a universally beneficial preventative tool for heart disease, which they hope will help prevent the common prescribing of the drug. These findings do go against commonly held beliefs, and further research will certainly need to follow, but the findings will and should be taken very seriously.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Belch, Jill. BMJ press release. October 2008.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2008 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
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