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Aspirin Saves Life Even in Cancer Patients

needed to better understand this contraindication.

According to the World Health Organization there are approximately 10 million cancer patients worldwide, of which 1.5 million may develop blood clots during their cancer treatment and, as such, are at a much higher risk of dying from heart disease if not treated properly. "Now that we have this study, it would be a travesty if you survive treatment for cancer only to die of a heart attack soon thereafter," Durand says.

According to Durand, no guidelines currently exist for treatment of heart attacks in patients with cancer. He says that physicians are especially perplexed about what to do for cancer patients with thrombosis (blood clots), a condition that affects about 15 percent of all cancer patients and can be due to the use of chemotherapy or the presence of cancer.

Durand came to M. D. Anderson in 2000 to start the Cardiomyopathy Services, which is believed to be the only program in the world specifically designed to look at cardiovascular complications caused by chemotherapy treatment. He is also the co-founder of CONQUER (Cardiology Oncology International Quest to Educate and Research Heart Failure in Cancer), a newly created organization with goals of increasing the success of chemotherapy by reducing cardiovascular disease as a barrier and long term risk.

He and anesthesiologist Mona Sarkiss, M.D., Ph.D., made the observation that patients with thrombocytopenia who suffered a heart attack and were being treated in the intensive care unit at M. D. Anderson tended to die more often when they were not given aspirin. However, they noted that some of the patients given aspirin and/or beta-blockers had "great" clinical outcomes. "Because no practice guidelines exist, physicians were treating their patients with great variability and the disparity was obvious," Durand says.

Sarkiss, who is the study's lead author, Durand, and a team of researchers whic
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