Aspirin shown to be beneficial before heart surgery

Surgeons who have been advising their patients to avoid taking aspirin in the days before surgery because they feared it could cause bleeding, will be reassured by the results of a new study.

The study has found that taking aspirin before heart bypass surgery may in fact help patients recover and survive better.

According to lead author Dr. Scott Wright, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, aspirin reduces clotting of the blood, and by preventing clots forming and blocking already narrowed arteries, a heart attack or stroke is less likely.

He says the study was designed to provide guidance on whether continuing aspirin therapy in the days before surgery is beneficial or risky.

The team studied 1,636 patients receiving heart bypass surgery in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Wright's team found that 1.7 percent of those patients who took aspirin in the five days before surgery died in the hospital afterwards, compared to 4.4 percent of those who did not, and importantly, those who took aspirin did not appear to have a greater risk of excessive internal bleeding.

Wright says the study confirms aspirin's benefits for patients with known cardiovascular disease, and also shows there is no increased risk of bleeding.

That says Wright, eliminates the main reason why physicians and surgeons would advise patients to discontinue aspirin therapy.

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