Despite the promotion over the last few years of aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), for such purposes as prevention of heart disease and stroke emergency treatment, there is still a downside to this drug. Long held to be of benefit as a fever and inflammation reducer, and to soothe minor pains, ASA is now pinpointed as a possible cause of blindness. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published an article on research carried out in Sydney, Australia, concerning this issue (see http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1558450#qundefined).
This “wonder drug” has often been found to be responsible for development of internal bleeding, such as in the case of ulcers, due to its effects of reducing the ability of blood platelets to clot. That is the reason aspirin is so popular in allopathic medical circles for giving to heart patients. Usually in the form of a child’s dosage, if taken daily, the adult facing a risk of heart attack is found to be less prone to having blood clots form. For the same reason, those at high risk for stroke are also encouraged along the same lines. If someone does have a stroke, they are often given an aspirin immediately after to help break up clots.
On the other hand, those on blood thinners, those already experiencing difficulty in clotting such as hemophiliacs, or patients with hemorrhages, are discouraged from this pill’s use. If you’ve had trouble with bleeding ulcers or other internal bleeding, stay away from anything containing ASA. Sometimes children, as well, have suffered from Reye’s Syndrome (see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001565.htm), which can be fatal, and is linked to aspirin (so why is this drug still manufactured for kids?). All in all, there are known dangers linked to aspirin.
Now, studies are finding that age-related macular degeneration—whereby the macula, at the back of the retina of the eye, deteriorates causing blindness—can be brought on by ASA. In this particular case, the “wet” form, whereby bleeding occurs, can develop because aspirin encourages bleeding of the eye’s blood vessels in that area. AMD is a major cause of blindness among the elderly. Coupled with the trend to use aspirin to promote health among this age group, the findings are therefore showing that seniors are more likely by far to develop this condition as a result.
Among those who prefer alternative medicine—about a third of the US population—the tendency is to use natural means of pain control, rather than pills. For cardiovascular health, similarly, herbs such as hawthorn have traditionally been used to promote blood circulation. Exercise when possible (due to age and other conditions, it may be limited), diet and other means like acupuncture are also often employed to benefit patients who need treatment for arthritis, diabetes and a host of age-related problems. In other words, there are certainly many viable natural options for those who cannot, or do not wish to, use aspirin. In virtually all urban communities, especially here in Los Angeles, there are numerous sources available (far too many to list here!) to assist seniors or anyone else who needs help dealing naturally with pain, heart health, and stroke prevention or treatment.