-Dr.Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
Everyday researchers are finding new ways for people to live longer and healthier lives. Today, I read an article that explains two new studies regarding taking aspirin and statins – medication for lowering cholesterol – that reduces major cardiac events post-surgery.
In the first study, patients took aspirin five days before heart surgery and were less likely to suffer from fewer heart attacks, strokes and other post-operative health problems. The study’s findings included that 13% of patients not taking aspirin experienced heart attacks, strokes or other types of cardiac health problems. This is compared to the 8.6% of patients that took aspirin prior to their surgery.
Senior study author Dr. Jian-Zhong Sun, an associate professor of anesthesiology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, told USnews.com, “At this time, we still don’t have a proven therapy to prevent the major complications involving the heart, brain and kidney that are common after cardiac surgery. Aspirin looks like a simple and promising drug to prevent some major complications.”
Currently, many Americans take aspirin (81mg/day) as a blood thinner to reduce chances of a heart attack or stroke. Dr. Sun reported, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommends patients stop taking aspirin before major surgery, including heart surgery, because aspirin can increase the risk of excessive bleeding and the need for blood transfusions.
More studies need to be done in order to change these guidelines and allow patient to take aspirin prior to surgery.
The second study, which took place in Finland, found that patients that were undergoing coronary bypass surgery were twice as likely to die, than patients taking the lower cholesterol statin medications.
In the study, about 2.7 percent of patients given statins died in the month following surgery, compared to about 5.1 percent of those not given statins. Dr. Vincent Bufalino, President and CEO of Midwest Heart Specialists outside Chicago said, “There’s been pretty convincing evidence that treating these people early and treating them regardless of their cholesterol level, whether it’s high, medium or acceptable, is a good idea. This is just one more study providing solid evidence that putting these patients on statins clearly works.”
Hopefully these findings will provide insight for those individuals undergoing heart surgery in the near future.