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Widespread aspirin use after chest pain could prevent heart attack deaths: Study

A recent study reveals that widespread aspirin use following chest pain significantly reduces heart attack fatalities, highlighting its life-saving potential. Learn more about this breakthrough in cardiovascular health.

Written By: Muskan Gupta @guptamuskan_ New Delhi Published on: May 20, 2024 21:05 IST
heart attack deaths
Image Source : FREEPIK Aspirin could prevent heart attack deaths: Study

A groundbreaking study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health sheds light on a remarkably simple yet effective method to combat heart attack fatalities in the United States. Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on May 1, the study underscores the lifesaving potential of aspirin when taken promptly after experiencing severe chest pain.

Led by Goodarz Danaei, Bernard Lown Professor of Cardiovascular Health, the study unveils aspirin as a low-cost intervention capable of significantly reducing heart attack mortality rates. The research, which involved experts like doctoral candidate Rienna Russo and Professor Daniel Wikler, highlights the critical importance of timely aspirin use in mitigating the dire consequences of heart attacks.

Aspirin's efficacy in preventing heart attack deaths has long been recognised. However, the study emphasises that its benefits are maximised when taken within four hours of symptom onset. Alarmingly, many individuals experiencing chest pain (the primary indicator of a heart attack) remain unaware of this lifesaving window. Moreover, delayed healthcare seeking further compounds the problem, often resulting in missed opportunities for timely intervention.

To quantify the potential impact of widespread aspirin use following chest pain, the researchers developed a sophisticated population simulation model. By analysing U.S. Census data, heart attack mortality rates, and existing studies on aspirin usage, they projected the staggering number of lives that could be saved annually.

The results are nothing short of remarkable. If adults across the U.S. were to self-administer aspirin within four hours of experiencing severe chest pain, over 13,000 deaths could be averted each year. Importantly, this figure accounts for aspirin-related bleeding risks, reaffirming the net benefits of timely aspirin intervention. Furthermore, the study estimates that these saved lives translate to over 166,000 years of extended life expectancy, an extraordinary testament to aspirin's potential impact.

Crucially, the implementation of such a strategy is not financially prohibitive. The projected cost of supplying aspirin to achieve this goal is a mere $643,235 annually, making it an exceptionally cost-effective intervention. With an average cost-effectiveness ratio of just $3.70 per year of life saved, aspirin emerges as a pragmatic solution to avert heart attack fatalities.

In light of these findings, the researchers advocate for concerted efforts to enhance access and adherence to aspirin as a secondary prevention strategy. “Efforts should continue to improve access and adherence to secondary prevention strategies, like initiating statins and improving dietary quality, but self-administration of aspirin alone can drastically reduce heart attack mortality without imposing financial strains or requiring long-term behavioural change,” the researchers said.

In conclusion, the study underscores the pivotal role of aspirin in preventing heart attack deaths. By raising awareness of the importance of timely aspirin use and promoting widespread access, we can harness this low-cost intervention to save thousands of lives annually. As the researchers aptly state, aspirin offers a potent means to reduce heart attack mortality without imposing undue financial burdens or necessitating long-term behavioural changes.

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