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The Role of Aspirin in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

The Role of Aspirin in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular diseases refer to a class of conditions which involve disorders of blood vessels or heart. These diseases may alter the structure of blood vessels or heart or modify its functions. The types of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) include angina, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke etc. Many people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause. Therefore, its necessary to get awareness to help prevent it.

What are the most prevalent forms of cardiovascular diseases?

Heart attack and stroke are the most frequently occurring conditions of CVD. An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2016. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke. These conditions are caused by different reasons. Arterial hypertension or increased blood pressure is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular events.

What are the causes of heart attack and stroke?

Heart attack results when blood supply to a part of the heart is blocked. Lack of oxygen being carried to the heart leads to death of a tissue, hence also termed as myocardial “infarction”. Stroke results from blockage of blood supply to the brain which further leads to the death of brain cells.

   The primary reason for obstruction of blood flow is atherosclerosis, i.e., accumulation of fatty deposits, cholesterol on the inner walls of the blood vessels supplying the heart or brain. This build-up is called plaque. These plaques can increase in size to significantly reduce the blood flow through an artery. This plaque can become delicate and eventually burst. Bursting of plaques can cause internal bleeding of blood vessels. When internal bleeding of blood vessels occurs, blood clotting cells called platelets accumulate at the site of the wound. These platelets form a plug to seal the wound and stop bleeding. These blood clots can further narrow the blood vessel or detach and travel to another part of the body. This is called an embolism.

   The secondary causes are a combination of risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet, increased salt intake, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, etc.

What is the treatment for CVDs?

Treatment and awareness of CVDs is necessary to help reduce death rate worldwide. Primary approach to treat CVDs is by changing lifestyle that involves switching to a healthier diet, exercising daily and reducing tobacco use. Secondary approach includes using medications that reduce risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol or dissolving of blood clots. The most common medication used is aspirin.

What are aspirin uses in prevention of cardiovascular diseases?

Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This medication has many uses that includes relieving moderate pain that results from muscle aches and reducing fever, inflammation and swelling. Aspirin can also reduce the risk of cancer of colon, esophagus, stomach, rectum and prostate. Aspirin tablets are also used during pregnancy to protect against pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, stillbirth, early pregnancy loss and fetal growth restriction.

   However, major aspirin uses help in preventing CVDs. Low-dose aspirin is a keystone in the prevention of adverse cardiovascular outcomes which is increased blood pressure. It can also help prevent a heart attack or clot-related stroke by interfering with how the blood clots. Aspirin uses include reducing the clumping action of platelets by slowing the process of clotting and thinning the blood which further helps in preventing blood clots to form. Aspirin tablets are administered by careful precaution and only after doctors’ prescription. Daily unnecessary use can lead to internal bleeding due to thinning of blood.

    Doctors administer aspirin tablets immediately after a heart attack to prevent future clots and heart tissue death. A doctor may prescribe daily aspirin tablets for people who have a heart or blood vessel disease, poor blood flow to brain, high blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure or hypertension. These conditions can be cured as a result of aspirin uses.

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