Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dr. Oz, Please Take Note: Routine Usage of Aspirin Can Be Dangerous

On a number of recent Dr. Oz shows, the 'good' doctor recommended the routine usage of 2 baby aspirins. He has recommended it to lower blood pressure, to help with pain at night, improve circulation, etc. In fact, here's a couple of direct quotes from his website.

"Take 2 baby aspirin every night before bed. Make sure to drink a large glass of water. Baby aspirin will help prevent inflammation which increases your risk for heart disease. Aspirin keeps blood platelets from clumping and clotting."

Here's another quote from the website:

"Take 2 baby aspirin a day to help circulation"

It turns out, big surprise, that his advice may be inappropriate. Unquestionably some people at increased risk for heart disease, such as those with a strong family history of it, elevated blood pressure and/or cholesterol may be candidates for baby aspirin, but it is highly dangerous and improper to recommend routine usage.

Why you may ask?  In a large population-based cohort of primary-prevention patients, the use of aspirin was associated with an increased risk of major gastrointestinal bleeding and cerebral bleeding episodes, and this increased rate of bleeding is higher than previously reported in other randomized, prospective clinical trials. So even ignoring this study, aspirin as a major cause of bleeding is well established. In fact, bleeding secondary to aspirin is one of the four top reasons for emergency room
visits in seniors.


The study cited above, which was published in the June 6, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that aspirin was associated with a 55% relative increase in the risk of major bleeding, a number that translates to two excess bleeding events for every 1000 patients treated annually. This bleeding rate is roughly equal to the number of major cardiovascular events avoided by the use of aspirin for primary prevention for patients with a 10-year risk in the range of 10% to 20%.  In other words, at this risk range, the risks are equal to the benefit, and below that risk range, the risks outweigh the benefits. You must speak with your doctor to properly qualify and quantify your risk. That is why it is imprudent for Dr. Oz to make such recommendations in a vacuum of knowing to whom he is speaking.

The conclusion of the study: "Elderly patients, patients with a history of major bleeding, or patients taking other drugs that can increase the risk of bleeding are probably not candidates for primary prevention with aspirin."

The take-away here is that advice dispensed by Dr. Oz should be dutifully ignored because no one should be acting on (and no doctor should be giving) specific medical advice delivered over the TV or radio. First the advice giver does not know your personal situation and second, you should not follow such generic advice without first consulting your physician.


1 comment:

  1. I would just like to thank you for taking the time to write this blog. I find your articles very interesting. I happened to stumble upon this site because I wanted to know if Dr.Oz was credible or not. I think he is a quack, but it was really to show my mother that she needs to be careful when it comes to following his advice. She idolizes him and it scares me. I care about her health and I don't want her hurting herself. Hopefully I can convince her not to watch the show. I've read one of your articles to her already to plant that seed of doubt. Anyway, keep up the good work.