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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Environmental Health Note/ Aspirin & Heart Disease

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth's Kathy Lutz reports on a study suggesting discontinuing aspirin therapy may lead to heart attacks for coronary patients.


CURWOOD: Just ahead: fear and fondness for Australia’s flying foxes. First, this Environmental Health Note from Kathy Lutz.


LUTZ: Aspirin has been around for a century, but only recently have scientists realized the drugs’ ability to thin the blood by preventing clots. Now doctors frequently recommend patients with coronary artery disease take aspirin to prevent heart attacks or stroke. But because it thins the blood, aspirin can cause bleeding. So, doctors often discontinue aspirin therapy when a patient is about to have any kind of surgery, even as minor as a dental procedure.

To find out how aspirin withdrawal can affect coronary patients a group of French researchers studied 1,236 heart attack victims at the University Hospital Pasteur in Nice between September 1999 and April 2002. Fifty-one of the patients were admitted about one week after they stopped aspirin therapy. The reasons for their aspirin withdrawal ranged from preparation for upcoming minor surgery to failure to follow doctor’s orders. Fifteen had a history of heart attack and 36 reported chest pain before their hospitalization.

Researchers presented their results at the recent American College of Chest Physician's meeting in Orlando. They called for more research and asked physicians and patients to be cautious when discontinuing aspirin therapy. And that’s this week’s Health Note. I’m Katherine Lutz.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Mohammed Rafi “Jaan Pehechaan Ho” GHOST WORLD SOUNDTRACK (Shanachie-2001)]



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