Should People With Diabetes Take Aspirin? What Doctors Say

Why aspirin and diabetes might be a good match

The main benefit of aspirin for people with type 2 diabetes relates to the drug’s potential effect on heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Diabetics should pay special attention to the increased risk of heart disease. according to American Heart Association (AHA)At least 68 percent of people age 65 or older who have diabetes die from some form of heart disease, and adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease as adults without diabetes.

In addition, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) It recommends that people with diabetes be evaluated annually for any risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, smoking, and a family history of early heart disease.

So does this mean that aspirin can help prevent these complications? The answer is complex, and ultimately depends on whether you aim to prevent heart disease from occurring for the first time or prevent a pre-existing diagnosis of the disease from getting worse, says Dr. Ademolam. If you have diabetes and are looking to prevent heart disease, you may not benefit from taking a daily aspirin. But if you have diabetes and are looking to manage heart disease due to a personal history of this disease, taking aspirin may help boost your heart health and prevent the development of heart disease.

This is in line with 2019 ADA GuidelinesAspirin therapy β€” 75 to 162 milligrams (mg) a day β€” is recommended if you have diabetes and an increased risk of heart disease. This recommendation applies to most men and women age 50 or older who have one or more major risk factors for heart disease β€” including a family history of the disease, high blood pressure or dyslipidemia β€” and who are not at risk of bleeding.

Can taking aspirin help prevent type 2 diabetes?

It should also be noted that if you are at high risk of developing diabetes or have been diagnosed with prediabetes, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, aspirin is not a proven approach to prevent the full form of the disease. Search which examined nearly 40,000 women over 10 years suggests that women who take low-dose aspirin are no less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women who don’t.

Related: More evidence that eating whole grains may help prevent type 2 diabetes

When you should not take aspirin while managing diabetes

Aside from type 2 diabetes, Schrods says, some people should avoid aspirin therapy altogether, including individuals with anemia or kidney disease. Adimoolam agrees, noting that aspirin can increase bleeding risks, so people with these and other bleeding disorders should not take aspirin.

In fact, according to A randomized controlled trial was published in October 2018 in New England Journal of Medicine, people with type 2 diabetes who took 100 mg of aspirin daily appeared to have fewer heart attacks than the placebo group. But among the two groups, those taking a daily aspirin had higher rates of major bleeding. The researchers followed 15,480 participants over an average follow-up of 7.4 years.

Separately, if your doctor determines that you are allergic or hypersensitive to aspirin, you should skip this treatment, Ademolam says.

“Taking aspirin is easy, but it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor,” Schrods says. She adds that the elderly in particular should be cautious about trying aspirin therapy.

Related: Facts about iron deficiency anemia and your heart

5 ways to help prevent heart disease if you’re managing type 2 diabetes

So what if you have type 2 diabetes and want to reduce your heart disease risk without aspirin therapy? Fortunately, the following steps may help:

1. Monitor salt intake to avoid high blood pressure. Try to limit your daily sodium intake to around 2,300 mg, which is about 1 teaspoon, says Schroeds. Be sure to check the nutritional labels of your foods, and know that high sodium content is common in packaged snacks like potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, granola bars and the like.

2. Reduce your processing consumption Saturated fat. These are the types of fats found in processed meats such as turkey bacon, ham, sausage, and bacon. Instead, try to reach for polyunsaturated fats, which you can find in foods like nuts (consider walnuts or almonds), avocados, and oils made from plants (like olive oil) and seeds, says Schrodis. Foods that contain polyunsaturated fats can help you feel full, and when you replace saturated fats with them, they may help reduce your risk of heart disease by about 30 percent, according to one study. Article published in June 2017 in Rotation. The authors note that this is similar to the risk reduction observed in people taking statins.

3. Make sure to exercise regularly. β€œThe heart is a muscle and needs at least 150 minutes of exercise per week,” says Ademolam, echoing recommendations for moderate-intensity exercise from Center for Disease Control, which suggests that all adults should incorporate regular physical activity into their lifestyles. The CDC advises that if you can’t get those 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, aim for 75 minutes, which equals 1 hour and 15 minutes, of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. But it’s important to be mindful of any pre-diabetes complications you may have, such as neuropathy, which can damage the foot, and make sure you get everything clear from your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

Related: The health benefits of exercising with neuropathy and how to do it safely

4. Talk to your doctor about medications that help control high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Both are a risk factor for diabetes, Ademolam says. Since high cholesterol and high blood pressure are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, it is essential to keep these health measures in mind. While eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help control and prevent these risk factors, both high cholesterol and high blood pressure may have a genetic component. Taking medications can help you manage these factors if your doctor determines they are a problem for you.

5. Do your best to quit smoking. This habit is another risk factor for heart disease, Ademolam says. The Center for Disease Control It indicates that more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease, and currently tobacco causes 6 million deaths each year. (By 2030, researchers predict that tobacco will cause 8 million annual deaths.) Another reason to quit? Smoking can also make diabetes more difficult to manage, and may double the risk of death.

The bottom line on aspirin therapy and other ways to help prevent heart disease

Ultimately, “exercise and nutrition can have a huge impact on heart health and diabetes management,” Schrods says. But according to recent ADA guidelines, aspirin therapy may be right for you if you’re well-managed and may be at higher risk for heart disease.

When in doubt, she adds, consult your diabetes health care team when considering changing your management plan. This way, you will be able to manage any risk factors in the most responsible and healthy way possible.

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