Why everyone should carry an aspirin – The Daily Mail

9 Mar

The following excerpts are taken from a feature in the Good Health section of the Daily Mail, published on 22 February, 2010.

When Chris Atkinson felt a searing pain in his chest, he knew straight away what was wrong. He had witnessed his father’s heart attack and realised the pain and cold sweats couldn’t be anything else. But the 54 year old was alone in a quiet area of Portsmouth and, with the pain intensifying, he feared he wouldn’t survive – as well as his father, his three uncles had all died of heart attacks.

Then Chris remembered he had an aspirin in his car. The previous week he’d seen a television report on how taking an aspirin during a heart attack can help to reduce the risk of it proving fatal.

Chris rang his wife and asked her to call an ambulance – he was so breathless it seemed simpler than doing it himself – while he staggered to the car and took the cheweable aspirin.

‘It took me two minutes to get to the car and it was a realy struggle, as I was panting for breath and clutching my chest with the pain, but the tought of that aspirin and how it might save ny life drove me on’.

When an ambulance arrived ten minutes later Chris’s lips had gone grey. The first thing they asked was whether he had taken anything. I told them about the aspirin and they said “thank goodness for that”, says Chris. At the hospital, the consultant said the aspirin probably saved my life.

Studies have found that taking an aspirin during a heart attack can literally make the difference between life and death – and the sooner you take one, the better your chance of survival.

One major study showed that taking an aspirin as soon as possible during a heart attack and for a month after reduced the risk of dying by a quarter and those benefits lasted for at least ten years.

Dr Adrian Banning, consultant cardiologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, says about 50 percent of heart attacks prove fatal within the first few hours, so the sooner people take it the better, he says, yet many people do not see a paramedic for on average two hours after the onset of symptoms.

For some it is six hours or longer, as most heart attacks occur in the early morning and people delay calling, thinking that their symptoms are indigestion or a muscular pain.

However, if people get a sharp radiating pain that speads down one arm, I would urge them to take one aspirin – one or two 300mg pills instantly. I’d urge everyone over 50 and everyone with a family history of heart attacks to carry aspirin with them at all times to take in an emergency.

Chris Atkinson has no doubt that calling 999 – and taking an aspirin saved his life.

He now takes a daily aspirin, on his doctor’s advice. And he’s giving all his close friends a special key fob – called an ASPOD – with room to hold emergency aspirin.

It might not seem a terribly exciting present. but one day it might come in very, very useful, he says.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: IF YOU NEED TO TAKE AN EMERGENCY DOSE OF ASPIRIN YOU MUST DIAL 999 FOR AN AMBULANCE FIRST – AND THEN IMMEDIATELY CHEW AND SWALLOW ONE 300mg SOLUBLE ASPIRIN.  If in doubt speak to your Doctor.

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