Dueling Headines

You may think of aspirin as a medication with a fairly good reputation.  It’s been around for over a century; it works well for everyday aches; and there’s evidence to suggest that for some people, it can help prevent heart attacks and multiple forms of cancer.

At least, until this past week.  Then you may have seen headlines suddenly suggesting that aspirin could cause heart attacks.

“Salt in everyday painkillers linked to premature death”1
“Aspirin link to heart attacks”2
“Sodium-packed medications raise stroke and heath risks”3

Meanwhile, other headlines continue to tout aspirin’s virtues.

“Aspirin could help cure deadly diseases”4
“An aspirin a day could help stop dementia”5

It’s all enough to give you a headache.

By F Delventhal from Outside Washington, D.C., US (Image on Flickr  Uploaded by UAwiki) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsSo, when you reach for your headache medicine, what does it look like?  If it fizzes, you may want to think twice.  These dispersible or effervescent forms of medications, which use sodium compounds for the fizz, were the ones associated with a 16% higher risk of heart attack or stroke.  Plain tablets meant to be swallowed whole didn’t have this problem.

_____________________________________

1Herald Scotland
2Mirror.co.uk
3Los Angeles Times
4Zee News
5Daily Mail

The “beware of sodium in fizzy medicine” article:“Association between cardiovascular events and sodium-containing effervescent, dispersible, and soluble drugs: nested case-control study” BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6954 (Published 26 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6954

And the “aspirin could prevent dementia” article hasn’t been written yet.  Those headlines have to do with the beginning of a new study examining the benefits of aspirin.  When the results come out, sometime in 2019, look here for clarification.

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