The first thing to do when you suspect you might be having a heart attack is to call 000. The next thing might be to take a couple of low-dose Aspirin.
News across the globe this week reports that Health Canada has just approved low-dose Aspirin (around 162 mg) as an emergency heart attack treatment.
Acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient in Aspirin, prevents platelets from sticking together and can help break up blood clots that cause heart attacks. Platelets are blood cells that clot and allow the body to heal wounds and stop bleeding. When a clot forms in an artery, it can stop or slow blood flow to the heart and cause a heart attack.
Dr. Alan Bell, an assistant professor in the department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, says doctors have known for some time that ASA can lower the risk of death from a heart attack, because the drug can dissolve blood clots in arteries.
"For 15-plus years, we have known and have been giving patients with acute heart attacks a couple of Aspirin to chew right away," he told CTV News Channel.
What Health Canada has done now, which is a very forward-thinking idea, is to advise we chew Aspirin at the first signs of heart attack and save that 15 minutes while you’re waiting for the paramedics arriving. And that could save your life.
Bell, who is being paid an honorarium by Bayer to speak about Aspirin, says while paramedics will usually administer ASA during a heart attack, taking the drug right away can save precious minutes.