Many doctors recommend a daily ‘baby’ aspirin for people with hypertension to help prevent unwanted blood clots. Whether or not you are advised to take mini-aspirin for heart disease prevention will depend on where you live.
Should you take a daily aspirin?
In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) tells doctors not to routinely prescribe low dose aspirin as an antiplatelet treatment (to reduce blood stickiness and prevent unwanted blood clots) in people who do not already have cardiovascular disease. If you already have high blood pressure, however, opinions vary.
Some experts recommend treatment with daily aspirin if you have hypertension and are:
- Over 50 years of age, with a high risk of future cardiovascular disease (greater than 20% over the next 10 years – you can calculate your risk here)
- Or if you have reduced kidney function (which your doctor can check with a blood test).
In the US, guidelines issued in April 2016 recommend that adults aged 50 to 59 years should take a daily low-dose aspirin for primary prevention if their risk of a cardiovascular disease is 10% or greater over the next 10 years (compared with a 20% risk in the UK). They believe there is a high level of certainty that the benefits of doing so are moderate to substantial.
For older people, aged 60 to 69 years, the benefits are less certain, however, and the decision is based on weighing up the risks and benefits of your individual circumstances. US experts do agree, however, that for adults below the age of 50 years, and for those aged 70 or over, there is insufficient evidence of benefit.
Aspirin side effects
Taking aspirin long-term can have potentially serious side effects, such as peptic ulceration and bleeding. This means the balance of benefit from taking a daily aspirin is only modest compared to the potential harm. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of an artery bursting, for example, and if this happens you don’t want your blood to be too thin.
In the UK, NICE therefore recommend that treatment with aspirin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (in people who haven’t already had a heart attack or stroke) is not started until blood pressure is controlled and less than 150/90 mmHg.
If you have high blood pressure, and are aged 50 to 70 years, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should take a daily low-dose aspirin, and ask them to fully explain the benefits versus the potential harm.
Fruitflow is an effective aspirin alternative
Another option is to take Fruitflow, an extract from the clear jelly that surrounds tomato seeds. This unlikely source contains natural substances that reduce the spikiness of platelets – cell fragments that contribute to unwanted blood clotting.
Researchers have found that taking a single dose of Fruitflow is as effective as 75mg mini-aspirin, but without the side effects. After seven days of regular use, Fruitflow suppressed platelet function by around one-third compared with those taking 75mg dose of aspirin daily, so it is less likely to interfere with normal blood clotting.
Tomato extracts also inhibit angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) to help lower a raised blood pressure, making it useful if you have hypertension, in which increased platelet activity plays a key role.
The evidence of effectiveness and safety for Fruitflow tomato extracts are so compelling that the European Food Safety Authority has authorised a claim that Fruitflow: ‘Helps maintain normal platelet aggregation, which contributes to healthy blood flow.’
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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