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Quiz: An Injured Heart’s Little Helper

Like Band-Aid, Kleenex and Xerox, Aspirin is a brand name used so ubiquitously that it’s become a generic word. It started with Bayer back in the 1800s, but many different brands can be bought today. While not used as much now for pain, a low routine dose of aspirin has been shown to help patients who have had a heart attack or are at a high risk for heart disease. Take our quiz to learn more:

1. Aspirin can help patients with heart disease by making blood cells called platelets less ____.

  1. Numerous
  2. Heavy
  3. Unstable
  4. Sticky

2. Another cardiovascular benefit of aspirin is the protection of blood vessels against inflammation.

  1. True
  2. False

3. Aspirin was originally developed and used for ____.

  1. Pain
  2. Fever
  3. Inflammation
  4. All of the above.

4. Patients using a blood pressure medication called an ACE inhibitor should not take aspirin.

  1. True
  2. False

5. If you stop taking aspirin, its effect continues for about ____.

  1. 12 hours
  2. 2-3 days
  3. A week to 10 days
  4. Three weeks

6. If you think you're at high risk for heart disease, you should take aspirin even if your doctor hasn’t recommended it yet.

  1. True
  2. False

Answers:

1. D. Sticky. The sticky surface of platelets is what begins the process of forming blood clots, which are necessary to stop a person from bleeding. But clots can sometimes block blood flow to the heart or brain, triggering a heart attack or stroke.

2. A. True. Aspirin can be used as an anti-inflammatory for blood vessels and other parts of the body.  Inflammation of the blood vessels is responsible for angina, the pain in the chest caused when the heart muscle does not get enough blood.

3. D. All of the above. Newer pain medications have eclipsed aspirin for pain and fever as they are less likely to cause upset stomach or gastrointestinal bleeding. Doctors also strongly advise against using aspirin for fever or pain in children due to the risk of a rare but serious disease called Reye’s syndrome.

4. B. False. Originally it was though that aspirin affected an ACE inhibitor’s ability to lower blood pressure, but more recent studies have disproved this.

5. C. A week to 10 days. This is why doctors recommend that a patient scheduled for surgery stop taking aspirin that long before the procedure to lower the risk of bleeding afterward.

6. B. False. You should always talk to your doctor before taking aspirin. It does pose health risks for some people, including digestive bleeding and allergic reactions. It can also raise the risk of bleeding for patients who take anticoagulants, or blood thinners. Do not start aspirin without talking to your doctor first.


Source: The Health Library at www.sjchs.org

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