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How Aspirin Prevents Heart Attack, Stroke and Cancer
Hypertension is associated with heart disease and stroke
Antioxidants are alternatives to aspirin in preventing heart attack, stroke and cancer
I have had an extensive experience with aspirin as I had been taking it for three years on a daily basis.
I am a victim of myocardial ischemia or narrowing of heart artery. I am undergoing infusion chelation therapy to cure it. The Hubs I have been writing that you can read in Hubpages are part of evidence that I am growing stronger. I started Hubbing when I already had 30 sessions of infusion chelation therapy. My chelation program prescribes 45 sessions.
I was diagnosed by a conventional medicine doctor who prescribed for me daily intake of aspirin, starting with a dose of about 75 mg. In the second year, the dose was reduced to 30 mg per day.
Some benefits from aspirin
My doctor said aspirin is designed for me to reduce the risk of blood clotting, in effect reducing the risk of heart attack. A blood clot that may lodge on the narrowed part of an artery may block blood flow partially or completely resulting in a substantial reduction of blood flow to the heart. Reduced blood flow means reduced supply of oxygen because it is the carrier or oxygen. Heart muscles starved for oxygen may die. Several heart muscles may die that disable the heart to pump resulting in heart attack.
How does aspirin reduce blood clotting? Aspirin blocks the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) that produces prostaglandins when it acts on arachidonic acid (Sears, B., Ph.D. The Zone. 1995). Prostaglandins consists of prostacyclin and thromboxane A2 that promotes platelet aggregation. Such aggregation promotes clotting that may result in heart attack. Thromboxane also promotes constriction of arteries that promotes hypertension, angina and heart attack.
Research showed that aspirin can reduce heart attack by 40%.
How does aspirin prevent cancer? COX produces superoxides as by-product when it acts on arachidonic acid. Superoxide is a free radical that has at least one atom or a molecule or fragment of a molecule with at least one unpaired electron. This unpaired electron is unstable that to stabilize it grabs another electron from a molecule of a tissue. By grabbing it inflicts injury that may result in change in the DNA that shows as tumor or cancer. Superoxide has one unpaired electron; it is a master free radical that produces several siblings like hydrogen peroxide, peroxynitrite, hydroxyl free radical, alkoxy radical, lipid peroxide, and more. These siblings are also called reactive oxygen species (ROS) that act like free radicals in that they also grab electrons of other molecules.
(I have a Hub “A Free Radical Theory of Tumor and Cancer for Effective Prevention, Treatment and Cure of These Diseases”).
So, when aspirin blocks COX, it prevents the production of superoxide and its siblings. There are other sources of superoxide like metabolism of glucose, nitric oxide synthase, xanthine oxidase and more. But COX contributes a lot to the prevention of the production of superoxide as judged from the prevention of cancer.
Research found out that incidence of cancer on aspirin takers was reduced by 40% (Sears, B., Ph.D. The Zone. 1995:113-118).
Aspirin is a pain reliever. Some pain relievers block the production of thromboxane and prostacyclin altogether like Vioxx. This drug was withdrawn from the market in 2004 because it promotes stroke and heart attack if taken continuously for 18 months. (I have a Hub on how some pain relievers like COX-2 inhibitors induce heart attack and stroke ).
How does aspirin prevent stroke? There are two kinds of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. In ischemic, the artery is narrowed such that the brain cell is starved for oxygen. If the brain part that controls movement of the arms is impaired, the person will be unable to move his arms. In hemorrhagic stroke, arteries in the brain burst and bleeding into the brain cells occurs.
Narrowing of arteries is started by an injury inflicted by free radicals and ROS at the inside wall. Plaque forms on the injured part that partially blocks the artery. In the hemorrhagic stroke, the arteries are weakened by free radicals and ROS that become prone to bursting. A weakened artery bursts when an extra amount of blood, owing to stress or adrenaline, exerts pressure on it.
By blocking the production of superoxide, aspirin lessens population of free radicals and ROS that injure the inside wall of arteries. By blocking the production of thromboxane, aspirin lessens risk of platelet aggregation resulting in blood clot, or it reduces constriction of arteries that lessens blood flow.
Aspirin can reduce stroke by 20% as shown by research.
New entries as of June 22,2012. Pregnant women may overproduce thromboxane A2 that makes them suffer a unique hypertension. Pregnancy-induced hypertension results in maternal death by 20%. Low dose of aspirin reduces hypertension during pregnancy, according to Dr. Sears. By lessening the amount of thromboxane A2 produced, aspirin also reduces hypertension associated with pregnancy. (I still have to verify if this pregnancy-induced hypertension is related to preeclampsia, a threat to the fetus, or to eclampsia, a threat to the fetus and mother).
Especially for pregnant woman: aspirin can reduce hypertension during pregnancy but it can also induce abortion. So, there must be a balance in taking aspirin that can be achieved with the advice of a doctor. End of new entries.
Ischemic stroke is usually remedied by dilators or anti-hypertensive drugs. Garlic has ajoene that dissolves blood clot. Fruit juice of noni (Morinda citrifolia, L) enhances production of nitric oxide that serves as a messenger for arteries to dilate and allow more blood flow. Nitric oxide is also produced by nitroglycerin (Imdur, Isordil). Hemorrhagic stroke can be remedied by clot-dissolving drugs like streptokinase or t- PASE (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator) that is 2% stronger than streptokinase (Anders, G. Health versus Wealth. 1996). The last resort is operation on the brain.
This Hub is largely triggered by fellow Hubber Tina TrueLove who has a Hub “Daily Aspirin Therapy for Preventing Heart Attack and Cancer: Should We or Shouldn’t We?”
In addition to its ability to relieve pain, aspirin also thins out blood that partly explains how it can prevent platelet aggregation. However, this thinning out enables blood to leak through arteries or escape from the capillaries, the thinnest part of the vascular system where oxygen exchange occurs. This leak results in internal bleeding.
Aspirin is not prescribed for a patient with dengue fever that involves bleeding induced by virus. If the blood is too thin, bleeding will become more profuse.
The well-known side effect of aspirin is inducement of ulcer.
Aspirin tablet contains aluminum fibers that when lodged in brain cells cause Alzheimer's disease "Buffered aspirin contains 10-52 mg of aluminum per tablet; a 14-tablet-per-day regimen would also result in high aluminum intake…” (Cranton, E. MD. Bypassing Bypass. Updated second edition. 1995:94).
So, aspirin should not be taken as a daily therapy for the prevention of heart attack or stroke on a long-term basis. Still the doctor must be consulted. A second opinion should be obtained.
Why? Aspirin was prescribed for my myocardial ischemia. In the third year of taking aspirin I told my cardiologist that in a urinalysis to diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI), fresh blood was found in my urine. He did not stop me from taking aspirin.
The other doctor (in family medicine) who diagnosed my UTI did not stop me from taking aspirin either. Neither of them explained why fresh blood was found in my urine. I thought I was entitled to an explanation of the fresh blood as it was bothering me.
In my literature research I found that one side effect of aspirin is internal bleeding. So I stopped taking aspirin without consulting it with either doctor. When I told my cardiologist what I did (stopped taking aspirin to stop internal bleeding) he did not say a word. However, he did not re-prescribe aspirin, not explaining why either. Sometimes don't leave everything to the doctor.
If arachidonic acid were not used for a long owing to the blockage by aspirin, arachidonic acid becomes diverted to the production of leukotrienes. This is a mediator of allergies, according to Sears. So, a person who takes aspirin continuously becomes allergic even to drugs.
Alternatives to aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke
We still need thromboxane A2, much as we need prostacyclin that counters thromboxane by dilating arteries and preventing platelet aggregation. Thromboxane promotes clotting in case of cuts that bleed. Thromboxane stops bleeding.
Alternative means to neutralize free radicals and ROS are antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E, and coenzyme Q10 and melatonin (whose precursors are tryptophan and serotonin available in food, fruits and vegetables). We have built-in enzyme antioxidants like superoxide dismutase, the glutathione enzyme system (glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, glutathione synthase) and catalase. We can enhance the production of the enzyme system from nutrition. Glutathione consists of glutamate (available in carbohydrates), cysteine, cystine (considered as one amino acid in metabolism, available in garlic), and co-factors B-2 (available as supplement and from food), zinc (available in plants like amaranthus), selenium (available in nuts like cashew) and lipoic acid which the body makes (Pressman, A. and S. Buff. Glutathione: The Ultimate Antioxidant. 1998). Some components of superoxide dismutase (SOD) are zinc, copper, and manganese that are available in food. A large portion of supplemented SOD and glutathione are destroyed by the hydrochloric acid of the stomach so it is better to take the sources of their precursors. B-2 is involved in the assembly of glutathione. SOD is of two kinds: Cu/zn SOD (protector of mitochondria, the energy factory) and manganese SOD (protector of the rest of the cell and intracellular components).
I have a Hub "How ex-President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States Was Killed by Enemies In His Cigarette Smoke." This elaborates how heart disease and stroke are started by free radicals and ROS. On the part of Roosevelt, the enemies within were free radicals and X-rays generated by cigarette smoke. Roosevelt smoked; he died of hemorrhagic stroke at age 63.
Aspirin still serves to prevent thromboxane and superoxide production from arachidonic acid. But it should be taken with caution.
It is interesting to determine the extent COX inhibitors like aspirin and ajoene of garlic prevent clot. Which is more effective? Garlic has an advantage in that it does not block production of thromboxane and prostacyclin. Both of these are needed, only they should be balanced in the body. Taking of aspirin may be necessary because of pain in arthritis, for example. But there are alternatives to relieve pain like the taking of noni juice that is 75% as strong as morphine. Noni juice is natural, from the fruit of noni plant (Morinda citrifolia, L.), and non-addictive (Elkins, R. The Noni Revolution. 2000).