Nonprescription drugs don’t always get the respect they deserve. Many over-the-counter medications have significant effects, for good or for ill. If you take anything day in and day out, you should discuss the benefits and risks with your healthcare provider. That way, if you are found to have a condition such as a leaky heart valve, your medications can be adjusted appropriately.

Did Aspirin Cause Father’s Leaky Heart Valve?

Q. Without doctor’s instruction and unbeknownst to his family, my father was popping one regular-strength aspirin a day for years. When he was rushed to the hospital, they found a heart valve leaking. They strongly implied the aspirin my father admitted to taking was probably the cause.

A. We hate it when doctors blame the patient for a condition they have no control over. A leaky heart valve is a mechanical problem and not your father’s fault.

Your father was probably trying to protect his heart with aspirin, based on previous information that this inexpensive drug can prevent repeat heart attacks. In fact, if he received a mechanical replacement for his leaky heart valve, doctors might well have prescribed aspirin to prevent blood clots (International Journal of Cardiology, Aug. 1, 2018).

Aspirin Is Losing Its Luster:

The latest research shows, however, that for people at low risk of heart attacks, the increased danger of bleeding may outweigh any benefit of regular low-dose aspirin (The Lancet, Aug. 26, 2018). In addition, your father was taking a higher dose than would be recommended even for those at great risk of a recurrent heart attack.

Before taking any medication on a regular basis, people should discuss the pros and cons of it with their doctors. Keep in mind that as science proceeds, doctors may have better information on which to base their recommendations. As a result, these may change as well.

Related People's Pharmacy Health Guide

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