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Another of Aspirin’s Secrets Discovered – A ‘New and Novel’ Mechanism for Discouraging Plaque Buildup

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“While the ability of aspirin to decrease the clumping of blood platelets is sufficient to explain why the drug decreases heart attacks and strokes, these data suggest a new and novel mechanism.”Charles H Hennekens, MD

According to the first data from human studies, all doses of aspirin used in clinical practice may decrease the development and progression of plaques leading to heart attacks and strokes by causing nitric oxide to be released from the blood vessel wall.

The findings, reported Nov 15 at the American Heart Association’s Annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida, were presented by Florida Atlantic University researcher Charles H Hennekens, MD. Dr. Hennekens was also the first to demonstrate that aspirin prevents a first heart attack or a first stroke.

An abstract of the presentation – “Usual Doses of Aspirin Increase Nitric Acid Formation in Humans” – was published online Nov 16 in the AHA’s official journal, Circulation (http://circ.ahajournals.org/current.dtl).

Dr. Hennekens and colleagues conducted a randomized trial in patients at high risk of a first heart attack or stroke, and assigned them to different doses of aspirin for 12 weeks. All doses produced highly significant beneficial effects on two important and well documented markers of nitric oxide formation.

“While the ability of aspirin to decrease the clumping of blood platelets is sufficient to explain why the drug decreases heart attacks and strokes, these data suggest a new and novel mechanism,” said Hennekens.

“We are proposing new and longer term research to test whether this hypothesis has clinical or public health relevance,” adds Wendy Schneider, MSN, RN, co-author and project director of the trial.

The American Heart Association recommends aspirin use for patients who’ve had a myocardial infarction (heart attack), unstable angina, ischemic stroke (caused by blood clot) or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs or “little strokes”), if not contraindicated.

This recommendation is based on sound evidence from clinical trials showing that aspirin helps prevent the recurrence of such events as heart attack, hospitalization for recurrent angina, second strokes, etc. (secondary prevention). Studies show aspirin also helps prevent these events from occurring in people at high risk (primary prevention).

Source: Florida Atlantic University (www.fau.edu), Nov 15, 2009

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Note: this information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team

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