Most people associate aspirin with heart attack prevention. However, if you are like most people, you might not know why or how aspirin works. Aspirin is generally effective in the prevention of heart attacks due to three characteristics, which result in health benefits.
1. Aspirin acts as a blood thinner. First, aspirin serves as a blood thinner, which allows the blood to flow freely through the arteries. Circulation to the heart could be a problem in persons with constricted or blocked arteries. If the heart, or a portion of the heart, does not receive an adequate supply of blood, a heart attack can occur and damage heart tissue. However, because aspirin therapy thins a person's blood, blood circulation can continue without interruption.
2. Aspirin inhibits prostaglandin production. The second way in which aspirin therapy can prevent or reduce the risk of having a heart attack is by inhibiting the production of prostaglandin, a chemical that triggers pain in the body following an injury. The presence of prostaglandin in the blood, though, often leads to a number of events that cause blood platelets to clump together-resulting in blood clots.
When a blood clot blocks circulation to the heart, a heart attack occurs. On the other hand, if the blood clot travels to the brain and prevents it from receiving an adequate blood supply, the person experiences a stroke. As you can see, because aspirin prevents this chain of events from taking place to begin with, it also reduces the risk and may even prevent a heart attack.
3. Aspirin contains anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is at the root of many diseases, including heart and cardiovascular disease. Since aspirin works at reducing or lowering inflammation, it also lowers the risk of heart attack.
It is important to keep in mind that aspirin may not be advantageous for everyone. Persons with bleeding ulcers, ruptured blood vessels, aneurysms, or any internal bleeding condition would do well to consult a physician prior to starting aspirin therapy, as it could increase bleeding.
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