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Aspirin Benefits Outweigh Potential Risks

Aspirin is well-known for its pain relieving properties and its us in the prevention of heart attacks. Many heart patients take aspirin and vouch for the support it provides them. Recently, a study was performed to weigh the benefits of aspirin use versus the potential risks such as Macular Degeneration. The study focused on patients who were on a long-course treatment of aspirin for heart attack prevention. Nearly 5,000 subjects were looked at and at the beginning of the study were in the age range of 43-86. The study followed the participants over a course of 20 years and each subject received a comprehensive eye exam every 5 years. The results indicated that patients who were on an aspirin regimen for at-least 10 years showed a greater chance of developing a very rare form of age-related macular degeneration or AMD. In total researchers found 512 cases of early AMD and 117 cases of late AMD. Within the subject population, those who used the aspirin regimen showed a 1.8% chance of developing late AMD in comparison to subjects who used no Aspirin at all. Also of this group, 1.4% developed specific type of AMD, known as wet or neurovascular AMD. However, those who didn’t use aspirin still showed incidents of this rare type of AMD, but their group percentage was only 0.6. Age-related macular degeneration is normally seen in people ages 50 and up. The condition causes loss of vision because it damages the macula, the part of the eye that allows us to see straight ahead. Central vision is used for identifying objects, reading, and driving. Increased risk has been found among Caucasians, smokers, and those with a genetic predisposition. Until this study, aspirin was not considered a risk factor. Researchers caution patients that under no circumstances should they cease a prescribed aspirin regimen. They emphasize that the risk actually is fairly low as the neurovascular form of AMD is quite rare. While patients may have a 2-times greater risk of developing neurovascular AMD from aspirin usage, the report only shows a relationship and is no way definitive. The fact is, as many clinicians who have been weighing in on the findings state, the risks of developing AMD are far less than developing a heart attack without following the regular aspirin dosage. It is suggested that if you have a family history of AMD and are one a heart-healthy regimen of aspirin that you speak with your physician. Most patients will not be affected by this study due to the relative rarity of the particular form of AMD, with or without aspirin usage. Under no circumstances should an aspirin routine be changed without a physician’s approval and if you are truly concerned about the development of AMD, make an appointment with a licensed optometrist for a thorough eye-exam. Sources: Medscape Medical News - Time Healthland - CBS News -
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