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Aspirin Saves Life Even in Cancer Patients

Researchers find that aspirin saves the life of cancer patient having heart attack contrary to popular belief. They believe that majority of these patients will die// if they are not given aspirin.

This study turns common medical assumptions upside down and will likely change medical practice for cancer patients. Because aspirin can thin blood and cancer patients experience low platelet counts and abnormal clotting, physicians view aspirin as a relative contraindication. Given that blood platelets are responsible for the clotting process, physicians do not eagerly prescribe aspirin as a standard treatment.

In this study, however, the investigators at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, found that 9 of 10 cancer patients with thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) who were experiencing a heart attack and who did not receive aspirin died, whereas only one patient died in a group of 17 similar cancer patients who received aspirin. They also found aspirin helps cancer patients with normal platelet count survive heart attacks, just as it does for people without cancer.

"The notion that heart attacks in patients with low platelets should be treated with clot-dissolving aspirin defies logic, that is unless you suspect that the cancer is interfering with platelet function," says the study's senior investigator and author, Jean-Bernard Durand, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Cardiology at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"We believe tumors may be releasing chemicals that allow the cancer to form new blood supplies which makes blood more susceptible to forming clots." Durand, a heart failure specialist, says. "There appears to be a platelet paradox suggesting that cancer may affect the mechanism of the way that blood clots, and from this analysis, we have found that the single most important predictor of survival in these patients is whether or not they received aspirin." Durand says more research is
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