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If you’re one of the 29 million Americans taking low-dose aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD), listen up.
For decades, health experts have recommended people take a low dose of aspirin for CVD prevention. They’ve done this because aspirin is an anticoagulant, meaning it inhibits the formation of blood clots that could cause a cardiovascular event like a heart attack.
However, this recommendation for using aspirin to prevent CVD has changed…
No more aspirin for CVD prevention
The most recent recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is for adults 60 years or older not to start daily low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of CVD.
In adults ages 40 to 59 who have a 10 percent or greater 10-year CVD risk and no risk of bleeding, the USPSTF calls the decision to take daily low-dose aspirin for prevention “an individual one.” It does warn that evidence shows the net benefit of aspirin use in this group is small.
Low-dose aspirin does have some benefit in patients with pre-existing CVD, having been shown to reduce the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event by 21 percent and all-cause death by 13 percent.
But new studies have uncovered potential harm caused by daily aspirin use. Its main drawback is an increased risk of a major bleeding event such as gastrointestinal bleeding, intracranial bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke. This risk is because aspirin inhibits platelet activity, which thins the blood.
At least one study in older adults found that the modest benefit of aspirin in CVD protection is far outweighed by the risk of major bleeding. A study in adults with diabetes found a greater benefit in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events; however, this benefit was counterbalanced by a higher bleeding risk.
Natural remedies to reduce risks
If you’re at higher risk of CVD, you’ll want to talk with your doctor before starting (or stopping) daily aspirin therapy. They will be able to help you weigh the benefits versus the risks and determine if low-dose aspirin is right for you.
Diet can also help reduce blood clot risk. That’s because some foods and spices have natural blood-thinning properties. These would not be an appropriate option for people with certain medical conditions, but much like aspirin, can be considered as part of a healthy lifestyle for prevention:
Cassia cinnamon, the kind of cinnamon sold at the grocery store, contains coumarin, an agent from which the commonly used blood-thinning drug warfarin is derived.
Consuming small amounts of cassia cinnamon in the diet will help support natural blood thinning. But you’ll want to be careful — taking large doses of cassia cinnamon over the long term could cause liver damage.
This pungent plant has been found to have a mild anti-clotting effect and to help reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. Aged garlic extract was found to deter the buildup of soft plaque that can break off and clog arteries. If you don’t like the taste of garlic, either cooked in food or taken raw, garlic supplements are available.
Grape seed extract
There is evidence that grape seed extract has blood-thinning properties. This supplement has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, extend longevity, help prevent arterial plaque build-up and decrease stroke risk.
This fermented soybean dish contains nattokinase, a powerful natural blood thinner. Natto is great for improving blood circulation. You can find natto at Asian grocery stores, or you can take nattokinase as a supplement.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, appears to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant properties. In addition, turmeric has demonstrated the ability to protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression, as well as boost memory.
As is always the case, you should speak with your doctor before using these remedies if you’re on blood-thinning medication, have a blood clotting disorder or have recently undergone surgery.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
Daily Aspirin: Abandon its Recommendation? — Clinical Advisor
Blood-thinning foods, drinks, and supplements — Medical News Today
Aspirin Use to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease: Preventive Medication — U.S. Preventive Services Task Force