Most people are aware that doctors often suggest taking low-dose aspirin on a daily basis to prevent having a second heart attack. Aspirin is an effective blood thinner, and it’s inexpensive, so it is widely used. But, should older adults be taking aspirin to prevent having a first heart attack? There has been little scientific research into the idea until recently when a new study looked into whether aspirin might be able to protect against having a heart attack for the first time.
About the Aspirin Study
The study was led by J. Michael Gaziano who is a cardiologist at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. It involved 12,500 participants, all of whom were at medium risk for having a heart attack. The participants were divided into two groups. One group was given low-dose aspirin while the other was given a placebo. At the close of the study, the data showed that the aspirin made no difference in the rate at which the participants had a heart attack. Therefore, the study indicates that taking low-dose aspirin is probably not effective for preventing a first heart attack.
It’s important to note that this is a single study. If your aging relative’s doctor suggests the use low-dose aspirin, they should follow the doctor’s advice.
Tips for Preventing a Heart Attack
Even if low-dose aspirin doesn’t work to prevent a first heart attack, there are several other things that can be done to reduce heart attack risks, such as:
Don’t Smoke: Smoking is one of the major risk factors for developing heart disease. If your older family member smokes, encourage them to quit. A doctor can help them with smoking cessation strategies.
Eat a Healthy Diet: A healthy diet is one that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids. Reduce salt, saturated fat, red meat, and sweets.
Control Cholesterol Levels: If your aging relative has not had their cholesterol checked recently, schedule an appointment with the doctor. The American Heart Association calls high cholesterol “a disaster waiting to happen.”
Manage High Blood Pressure: Like high cholesterol, high blood pressure is also a major risk factor for heart disease. Follow the doctor’s advice for managing the problem.
Exercise: Encourage the older adult to get some physical activity every day. Physical activity could include walking, cleaning the house, gardening, or taking a fitness class designed for seniors.
An elder care provider can assist your older family member to reduce their risks for having a heart attack. If they have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, an elder care provider can remind them to take their medications. Elder care providers can also prepare heart healthy meals. In addition, an elder care provider can encourage the older adult to be more active by involving them in household tasks, going for walks with them, or offering them transportation to an exercise class.