MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: How does taking aspirin during a heart attack help?

Date: Tue May 2 15:51:55 2000
Posted By: Michael Martin-Smith, Other (pls. specify below), Family Physician, Fellow,BIS, amateur astronomer( BAA), British Interplanetary Society
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 956954145.Me

While a heart attack itself may last  a few minutes, only some patients die 
in this acute stage. Many die within the ensuing few days due to extension 
of the infarction which the attack causes, or of later complications such 
as arrhythmias. It is this phase which is mitigated by the properties of 
aspirin which reduces the accretion of platelets to the damaged blood 
vessel lining and so reduces the size of the eventual infarct
 As to taking one during an attack, it is all a question of degree- some 
heart attacks are less incapacitating than others. This a patient who is 
fortunate enough to have aspirin within easy access during a mild attack 
will improve his/her chances of limiting the damage
 Naturally a major heart attack leading to rapid cardiac arrest will not
 respond to such simple measures!

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