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Aspirin vs. Warfarin for Heart Failure

Aspirin appears to work as well as prescription warfarin for patients with heart failure. Such patients are at increased risk for blood clots and strokes because their hearts do not pump blood efficiently. A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the lowly aspirin tablet could be just as good as the pricier and more problematic blood thinner warfarin, also sold under the brand name Coumadin.

Researchers randomly assigned more than 2,000 heart failure patients in 11 countries either aspirin or warfarin. Those on aspirin therapy took one standard aspirin tablet daily. After several years there was no significant difference in the crucial outcome metrics, stroke and mortality. This research confirms earlier work showing that aspirin works as well as warfarin for people with heart failure. These results may not apply to people with heart rhythm problems, so no one should stop warfarin without first discussing the new research with the prescribing physician.

[New England Journal of Medicine, online, May 2, 2012]

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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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