Posted in Health, medications, news

Experts Warn Against Taking Aspirin When Not Recommended by Provider

Harvard researchers warn that 30 million Americans are taking aspirin for prevention of heart disease when they could be putting themselves at risk for other serious diseases.

They estimate that 1/5 of these individuals took aspirin on their own without a doctor’s order.

Although aspirin use is recommended for secondary prevention of future heart attacks and ischemic stroke in those at risk of having a future episode, primary prevention (in those who have never had an attack) is still debated.

One study last year found minimal benefit if at all for primary prevention in low risk individuals.  Many experts say the risk of gastrointestinal bleed, heart disease, hemorrhagic stroke and kidney disease outweigh the benefits.

The latest guidelines from the American College of Cardiology states the following in terms of aspirin for prevention of heart disease:

For decades, low-dose aspirin (75-100 mg with US 81 mg/day) has been widely administered for ASCVD prevention. By irreversibly inhibiting platelet function, aspirin reduces risk of atherothrombosis but at the risk of bleeding, particularly in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Aspirin is well established for secondary prevention of ASCVD and is widely recommended for this indication, but recent studies have shown that in the modern era, aspirin should not be used in the routine primary prevention of ASCVD due to lack of net benefit. Most important is to avoid aspirin in persons with increased risk of bleeding including a history of GI bleeding or peptic ulcer disease, bleeding from other sites, age >70 years, thrombocytopenia, coagulopathy, chronic kidney disease, and concurrent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and anticoagulants. The following are recommendations based on meta-analysis and three recent trials:
  • Low-dose aspirin might be considered for primary prevention of ASCVD in select higher ASCVD adults aged 40-70 years who are not at increased bleeding risk.
  • Low-dose aspirin should not be administered on a routine basis for primary prevention of ASCVD among adults >70 years.
  • Low-dose aspirin should not be administered for primary prevention among adults at any age who are at increased bleeding risk.

___________________________

A report published in the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistics annual report cite 48% of US adults have some type of cardiovascular disease.

The uptick could be due to rising obesity, and lowering thresholds for diagnosing guidelines such as high blood pressure (now considered high if over 130/80).

Although smoking rates have declined over the years, many still use tobacco and recent research has found E-cigs to increase risk of heart attack and stroke by 70%.

 

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when an area of the brain does not get the proper oxygen and blood flow it needs. There are two major types of stroke:  ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Ischemic strokes are more common than the latter and occur when a clot prevents blood flow to part of the brain.  80% of all strokes fall under ischemic.  It is a likened to a heart attack, except the brain tissue is being deprived of blood and nutrients.  Plaques commonly arise from arteriosclerosis that break off travel to the smaller vessels of the brain.

Hemorrhagic strokes are less common and occur when there is a bleed of one of the brain vessels.  The bleed prevents blood flow into the brain since it is seeping outside the brain tissue, causing damage to nearby cells.  The bleeds could occur from high blood pressure or aneurysms that rupture.

 

What are the signs of a stroke?

Since a clot or bleed usually affect one area of the brain, we see symptoms on one side of the body, many times its contralateral (opposite) side.  We can also see central effects.  The symptoms of stroke include the following:

  • Weakness of one side of the body
  • Loss of balance
  • Numbness on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision issues
  • Headache
  • Facial droop

and more…..

 

How are strokes treated?

If the stroke was caused by a clot (ischemic) immediate treatment includes dissolving/removing the clot.   Aspirin is used initially and if within the proper time frame, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA).  These clots can also be surgically removed and arteries widened to bring blood flow to the brain.

With a hemorrhagic  stroke, we need to stop the bleed and improve flow to the brain.  Controlling the bleed, bypassing the vessel, “clogging” the aneurysm with techniques such as “coiling” (endovascular embolization) are sometimes utilized.

Time is of the essence, so its crucial to identify the warning signs and call 911 immediately.  The American Stroke Association uses the acronym “FAST” (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911).  The sooner a stroke victim receives medical attention the better the prognosis.

 

fast

COURTESY OF THE AMERICAN STROKE ASSOCIATION

 

What are the risk factors for stroke?

The following put us at risk of having a stroke.

  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease (artery clogging, such as the heart and carotid arteries)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation
  • Smoking
  • Drugs
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Clotting disorder
  • Sleep apnea
  • Being older (greater than 55)
  • African-Americans appear to be more at risk than Caucasians and Hispanics
  • Men seem to be more affected than women

 

How do we prevent strokes?

Avoid the following:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Drug use
  • Tobacco products
  • Control blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol
  • Get evaluated by a medical provider if at risk for heart disease or stroke.

 

Preventing Heart Disease

Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Personal history of heart disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Males over 40
  • Females who are post menopausal
  • High stress

and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.

As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease.  Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.

Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:

  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Maintain normal blood sugar
  • Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels
  • Reduce stress
  • Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay active
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Daylight Saving Time, Health, news

Daylight Saving Time Start May Come With Health Risks

Sunday March 10 is the start of Daylight Saving Time.  Our clocks spring forward 1 hour at 2:00 am.  However, unlike the Fall festivity in which the extra hour of sleep may improve our health, we risk a multitude of issues by losing a measly 60 minutes of sleep.

History of Daylight Saving Time

This ritual began in ancient civilizations, when daily schedules would be adjusted to the change in daylight.  Later Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay for Parisians entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” in 1784 explaining how less candles could be used if people woke up earlier, making  more use of natures early light.

 

benjamin-franklin-9301234-2-402.jpg

Although other countries adopted Daylight Saving Time before the US, such as Germany in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was the first to sign it into law in 1918 to conserve coal during the  Great War.  It was eventually repealed, though a handful of states maintained it.  In 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt, again to assist the conservation needed for the war efforts, made “Daylight Saving Time” year round, calling  it “War Time”.  After the war, however, no federal law maintained the time change and states chose to do what they wished.  The Uniform Time Law of 1966 attempted to unite the states in this effort and the law, signed by President Lydon B. Johnson, decreed Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October.  States had  the right to vote to exempt themselves.  By 2007, the Energy Policy Act, created in 2005 declared that Daylight Saving time begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November. Some states, including Arizona and Hawaii, do not convert to DST.

What are the risks to Daylight Saving Time start?

Now besides the groaning that occurs each week when we “lose” an hour at night of sleep, concerns have risen in the scientific community regarding health risks.  These include headaches, workplace injuries, car accidents and heart attacks.

A study from the University of Colorado a few years back found a spike in car accidents the first week after Daylight Savings Time change. Apparently drivers did worse with one hour less of sleep that those comfortable with their routine prior to the time change.

In 2014 a different study from the same university found heart attack risk to spike 25% the following Monday after the “spring forward” but fell to almost normal when the clocks fell back in the Fall.

An additional study in Chronobiology International found IVF success rates drop during this time in women, who had a previous miscarriage.

Personally the anxiety my listeners have with the one hour change makes one wonder the risk isn’t higher.  We’ve been losing hours of uninterrupted sleep for years once we allowed our smartphones into our bedrooms but a 60 minute time change…..the country falls apart.

Now with electricity, batteries, generators, and charged mobile devices the need to change the clocks to conserve energy isn’t as urgent as it once was. However, I’m not ready to suggest its demise because I really like the extra hour of sleep in the Fall.  So to decrease the risk of an ICU visit every Spring, I would suggest the following:

  1.  Prepare for the time change before it happens.  Wake up 10 -20 minutes early a few days before the change so that the one hour shift isn’t too drastic for our delicate circadian rhythms
  2. Continue your exercise each morning (and don’t skip it the Monday morning after DST) so your body gets accustomed to the adrenaline surge and you’ll be able to maintain your morning alertness despite the time change.
  3. Eat a balanced breakfast. You should be doing this as well year round but remember to include protein and complex carbs as energy sources.
  4. Make use of natural sunlight to help wake you up.  Just as we benefit from the moonlight to help us fall asleep, our body needs sunlight to wake up.  Take a short walk each morning to get some brisk exercise in and sunlight at the same time.
  5. Don’t stress about the time change. You’ll build it up bigger than it has to be and anxiety stresses the heart.
  6. Go to bed a little earlier Sunday night.

And finally, remember to change your clocks!!  Coming to work late Monday morning negates all the preparation we did the weekend before.  Personally I like to set my alarm for 1:50 am, splash some water on face to be bright and alert, and then meticulously change each clock in my house.  I know smartphones change themselves… but where’s the fun in that?

 

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The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Online Dating

 

 

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

 

Posted in Health, news

Can’t Do 40 Push Ups? You May Be at Higher Heart Risk

A new study has found men who can do at least 40 push ups are in better shape from a cardiac standpoint than those who can’t do more than 10.

Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found testing one’s ability to do push ups could be an easy marker to assess cardiac health.

They followed 1100 middle-aged male firefighters over a 10 year period (2000-2010) and 37 cardiac incidents occurred during that time.  All but one of the cardiac events occurred in men who could only do 40 or less push ups at the beginning of the trial.  Each firefighter had an annual physical and completed medical questionnaires and the push ups were performed in a timed setting. The authors, after analysis, found those who  could do more than 40 push ups were at a 96% less cardiovascular risk than those who could barely do 10.

The study did not look at women and those of other age groups, but the correlation between physical endurance and cardiac health is again suggested.

On their website they report:

“Our findings provide evidence that pushup capacity could be an easy, no-cost method to help assess cardiovascular disease risk in almost any setting. Surprisingly, pushup capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests,” said first author Justin Yang, occupational medicine resident in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

 

What causes a heart attack?

A heart attack occurs when part of the heart muscle fails to receive the blood and oxygen it needs. This can occur by arteries supplying the heart muscle to become blocked. Coronary artery disease can be caused by plaque build up from fats, sugars, calcium, fibrin that settle on the blood vessel wall. These plaques can build up and occlude the lumen, obstructing blood flow.

Additionally a heart attack can occur when an unstable plaque rips off, tearing the blood vessel lining causing the body to form an immediate clot. This clot can also be deadly as it obstructs the lumen as well.

Heart disease, however, can be prevented……..

Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Personal history of heart disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Males over 40
  • Females who are post menopausal
  • High stress
  • and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.

As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease.  Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.

Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:

  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Maintain normal blood sugar
  • Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels
  • Reduce stress
  • Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay active
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

 

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

Posted in Health, marijuana, news

Marijuana Lollipop Suspected in Heart Attack Case

For years studies have found marijuana use to increase risk of heart disease and stroke. Now a marijuana lollipop has been linked to a man’s heart attack.

Treating his arthritis and insomnia, an 70-year old man licked a marijuana lollipop and within a half hour experienced crushing chest pain.  The lollipop contained 90 mcg of THC, which is multiple times more potent than an average joint, according to Fox News.

They report he experienced hallucinations and anxiety which led to a spike in his heart rate and blood pressure thereby stressing the heart.  Fortunately he survived.

 

heart-issues-due-to-using-synthetic-marijuana-spice-k2

The lollipop was not intended to be a single use edible but many find it unsanitary to lick a few times and save for later.

Many studies have linked marijuana use to heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.

In 2017, Dr. Aditi Kalla and colleagues from Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia analyzed 20 million health records of patients who were hospitalized in 2009 and 2010 and found those who used marijuana (1.5% of the patients studied) were at high risk of coronary artery disease, sudden cardiac death, heart failure and stroke.

What’s even more striking is the patients were younger, aged 18-55. Risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure, alcohol use and smoking were already taken into account.

One theory for the link between heart disease/stroke and marijuana use is that cannabis may affect the cardiac muscle cell’s ability to contract, affecting the pumping mechanism of the heart, thereby leading to heart failure. Another theory is marijuana, like cigarette smoking, may be increasing risk of clots.  Below is a report on a study linking marijuana use to Transient Ventricular Regional Ballooning (TVRB). This can also lead to heart failure. Another theory suggests cannabis causes a release of stress hormones, such as cortisol.

In 2016 study out of St. Luke’s University Hospital Network found marijuana to cause stress cardiomyopathy.  This is a temporary condition that causes a “ballooning” of a region of the ventricle known as Transient Ventricular Regional Ballooning (TVRB).  We know that many drugs can cause cardiomyopathy (affect the heart muscle) such as cocaine and stimulants causing dilated cardiomyopathy, but this is new in that a sedating type of drug such as cannabis/marijuana, can cause similar effects on the heart.

The condition of TVRB can mimic many different heart conditions because it presents with chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness.  So many individuals admitted for these symptoms are evaluated for a heart attack, angina, pneumonia, and a variety of other diagnoses.

In this study, the researchers looked at data from 33,000 hospital admissions who had TVRB and saw a link between 210 of these admissions and marijuana use.  They are unsure how marijuana affects the heart, but theorize that it could be an increase in cortisol and stress hormones.  Although none of the marijuana users in this study died, the TVRB can cause cardiac arrest, heart attack.

History of Lollipops

For centuries civilizations had found ways to satisfy our sweet tooth.  Ancient Egyptians would mix nuts, fruit and herbs into a ball that could be skewered with a stick.  Putting candy on a stick was common as it allowed a sticky sugary or carmelized treat to be eaten easily.

However the modern style lollipop we believe was invented by George Smith of New Haven, CT in 1908.

The name “Lollipop” was trademarked in 1931 after he reportedly named the candy after a popular race horse, “Lolly Pop.”

 

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Learning Medical Spanish is Easy!!!

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

Posted in Health

Half of Americans at Risk for a Heart Attack

A report published in the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistics annual report cite 48% of US adults have some type of cardiovascular disease.

The uptick could be due to rising obesity, and lowering thresholds for diagnosing guidelines such as high blood pressure (now considered high if over 130/80).

Although smoking rates have declined over the years, many still use tobacco and recent research has found E-cigs to increase risk of heart attack and stroke by 70%.

 

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when an area of the brain does not get the proper oxygen and blood flow it needs. There are two major types of stroke:  ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Ischemic strokes are more common than the latter and occur when a clot prevents blood flow to part of the brain.  80% of all strokes fall under ischemic.  It is a likened to a heart attack, except the brain tissue is being deprived of blood and nutrients.  Plaques commonly arise from arteriosclerosis that break off travel to the smaller vessels of the brain.

Hemorrhagic strokes are less common and occur when there is a bleed of one of the brain vessels.  The bleed prevents blood flow into the brain since it is seeping outside the brain tissue, causing damage to nearby cells.  The bleeds could occur from high blood pressure or aneurysms that rupture.

 

What are the signs of a stroke?

Since a clot or bleed usually affect one area of the brain, we see symptoms on one side of the body, many times its contralateral (opposite) side.  We can also see central effects.  The symptoms of stroke include the following:

  • Weakness of one side of the body
  • Loss of balance
  • Numbness on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision issues
  • Headache
  • Facial droop

and more…..

 

How are strokes treated?

If the stroke was caused by a clot (ischemic) immediate treatment includes dissolving/removing the clot.   Aspirin is used initially and if within the proper time frame, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA).  These clots can also be surgically removed and arteries widened to bring blood flow to the brain.

With a hemorrhagic  stroke, we need to stop the bleed and improve flow to the brain.  Controlling the bleed, bypassing the vessel, “clogging” the aneurysm with techniques such as “coiling” (endovascular embolization) are sometimes utilized.

Time is of the essence, so its crucial to identify the warning signs and call 911 immediately.  The American Stroke Association uses the acronym “FAST” (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911).  The sooner a stroke victim receives medical attention the better the prognosis.

 

fast

COURTESY OF THE AMERICAN STROKE ASSOCIATION

 

What are the risk factors for stroke?

The following put us at risk of having a stroke.

  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease (artery clogging, such as the heart and carotid arteries)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation
  • Smoking
  • Drugs
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Clotting disorder
  • Sleep apnea
  • Being older (greater than 55)
  • African-Americans appear to be more at risk than Caucasians and Hispanics
  • Men seem to be more affected than women

 

How do we prevent strokes?

Avoid the following:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Drug use
  • Tobacco products
  • Control blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol
  • Get evaluated by a medical provider if at risk for heart disease or stroke.

 

Preventing Heart Disease

Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:

Family history of heart disease

Personal history of heart disease

High Blood Pressure

High Cholesterol

Diabetes

Smoking

Obesity

Inactivity

Males over 40

Females who are post menopausal

High stress

and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.

As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease.  Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.

Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:

Maintain a normal blood pressure

Maintain normal blood sugar

Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels

Reduce stress

Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables

Quit smoking

Stay active

Maintain a healthy weight.

 

 

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Learning Medical Spanish is Easy!!!

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Christmas, Health, news

Christmas Season is also Heart Attack Season… Avoiding the Christmas Coronary

Tis the season!! Unfortunately not for our hearts.  A study back in 2004 found a 5% increase in heart attacks during the Christmas season.  Then last year, a study published in the British Medical Journal found Christmas Eve to be especially risky for those who are prone to heart disease.  Let’s dissect why….

Baby its cold outside…..

The cold has long been associated with heart stress.  Cold weather causes blood vessel constriction and this adds extra work for the heart. Moreover, it causes less oxygen to reach vital organs, including the heart.

Snow shoveling has been infamous for inciting heart attacks for this same reason.  The heart demands extra blood due to the increase in activity and the cold restricts blood flow.

Let’s toast…….

Alcohol, especially in excessive amounts, can put stress on the heart by increasing blood pressure, worsening diabetes, and causing abnormal heart rhythms.    Moreover, it interferes with the metabolisms of medications, hence many of these may not work at their best.   Which brings us to…..

Is there a doctor in the house?

Medical providers take vacation too.  And if a patient forgets to refill his medication he may go without during the two weeks of holiday season.  Moreover many forget to pack every thing they need for a Holiday trip and without anticipating delays, one could be without crucial medication dosing.  The heart does not like this.

Stress…….

Holiday travel is never easy.  Delays, long lines, the cold, traffic and then…..family.  We may love our family but prefer seeing them in small doses.  All the family at once can be a little overwhelming for some.  As for coping with the in-laws…..well a guide is available for you all here.

Preventing Heart Disease

Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Personal history of heart disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Males over 40
  • Females who are post menopausal
  • High stress

and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.

As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease.  Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.

Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:

  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Maintain normal blood sugar
  • Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels
  • Reduce stress
  • Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay active
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

 

So how to prevent to the “Christmas Coronary?”

Plan ahead by doing the following:

  •  If you are running low on your prescriptions contact your medical provider early on.
  •  Pack prescriptions in two different bottles, so you can take some medication on your carry on in case the flight gets delayed or a suitcase gets lost.
  • Avoid getting sick, by getting your flu shot, washing your hands, avoiding sick contacts.
  • For tips on how to avoid getting sick on a plane visit here.

 

Holiday time should be a happy time. Let’s make it a healthy one!!!

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, medications, news

Common NSAID Raises Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke by 50%

 

A recent study published in the BMJ finds diclofenac (brand name Volataren) poses increased cardiovascular risk when compared to paracetamol (acetaminophen) and other antiinflammatories.

Study authors looked at data of over 6.3 million adults and found increased risk of arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation), stroke, heart failure, myocardial infarction and risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding when compared to those who took naproxen, ibuprofen and paracetamol.

Dr. Morten Schmidt, at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and authors state in his abstract:  Diclofenac poses a cardiovascular health risk compared with non-use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Experts suggest a ban on the commonly used drug.

NSAIDS linked to heart attack and stroke

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include ibuprofen, naproxen,  and diclofenac.  They also include the COX-2 inhibitors such as celecoxib.  These medications are seen in products under the brand name Motrin, Aleve, Voltaren, and Celebrex respectively.  These classes of medications are extremely popular as they help consumers treat a variety of ailments including helping to relieve pain, inflammation and lower fever.  Moreover they are inexpensive and many, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, do not require a prescription at the lower doses.

However their chronic use has been linked to serious medical complications such as ulcers, kidney failure and cardiac issues.  In March, a study published in the March issue of European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy found NSAID use (specifically Ibuprofen and diclofenac) to increase of cardiac arrest.

Last May a study published in the BMJ, British Medical Journal, found increase risk of heart attack in those who took ibuprofen or naproxen.  In this study the team reviewed records of 460,000 patients, 61,000 of them who suffered a heart attack, and found the higher the dose of NSAID, the higher the risk.  They studied celecoxib, naproxen, ibuprofen and diclofenac and with merely a month of daily use of any of these medications, a 24-58 percent increase risk in heart attack was seen.  Although this sounds high, the absolute risk is still small and this was an observational study rather than a study that tested cause and effect.

Study author, Dr. Michele Bally, stated, “These numbers do not mean that a person has a 20 to 50 percent risk of having a heart attack after taking those drugs”, but she suggested, “If someone needs to treat occasional pain, fever, or inflammation they should consider all available treatment alternatives and get the help of the health care providers.”

heart-issues-due-to-using-synthetic-marijuana-spice-k2

Why would NSAIDS cause heart attack?

One theory is the medication may cause suppression of prostacyclin, a cardioprotective lipid (prostaglandin), that inhibits platelet activation and vasoldilation (relaxation of the blood vessels).  NSAIDS have also been known to raise blood pressure, possibly by this inhibition of vasodialation.  This type of stress on a heart, especially if its vulnerable to abnormal heart rhythms or heart disease, can cause cardiac arrest.

But we don’t want to be fearful that taking antiinflammatories will stop our hearts. Being proactive with our heart health is paramount, and this study reminds us to use caution with over the counter medications.

Preventing Heart Disease

Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:

Family history of heart disease

Personal history of heart disease

High Blood Pressure

High Cholesterol

Diabetes

Smoking

Obesity

Inactivity

Males over 40

Females who are post menopausal

High stress

and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.

As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease.  Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.

Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:

Maintain a normal blood pressure

Maintain normal blood sugar

Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels

Reduce stress

Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables

Quit smoking

Stay active

Maintain a healthy weight.

 

dw sketch.jpg

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

She is also a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Touro University Nevada