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Aspirin Before Heart Surgery Improves Outcome

Surgeons frequently tell patients to stop taking aspirin a week or so before having an operation. This has been especially true for cardiac surgery. The worry is that aspirin will lead to excessive bleeding, which could be a dangerous complication. A new joint study from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and UC Davis Medical Center suggests, however, that when patients take aspirin within five days before heart surgery they have lower rates of complications.
In this research, the records of nearly 3,000 patients were analyzed. Roughly 2,000 had taken aspirin at least once during the five days before heart surgery. The dose ranged from a low-dose 81 mg aspirin pill to a full 325 mg tablet. Those who had taken aspirin were less likely than those who did not to develop kidney failure or require intensive care. They were also less likely to die during the month following their surgery. The investigators urge further trials to determine whether the benefits of aspirin outweigh the risks. In the meantime, no one should undertake this approach without discussing it with the surgeon.
[Annals of Surgery, online, Dec, 2011]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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