Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Should I Take Baby Aspirin As an Additional Blood Thinner?

Thursday, 10 Jun 2010 04:45 PM

Question: I take omega-3 supplements morning and evening as well as 400 IU of vitamin E every morning. I have HBP and diabetes, both under control. I have heard that both of these nutritional supplements are blood thinners. Should I also take baby aspirin or is that redundant?
Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
Low dose Aspirin (80-160 mg) acts as an effective blood thinner for most people who have been advised to use it. Aspirin works by interfering with platelet function. Platelets are cells in our blood stream that begin the clotting process by clumping together to form a "platelet plug." It helps stop bleeding while our coagulation pathway, which is a slower process that is not dependent on platelets, is activated.
Aspirin is not for everyone, so check with your doctor to weigh the relative risk/benefit ratios. High dose aspirin does not seem to work as well as low dose aspirin. While aspirin may be prescribed for use with other anticoagulants, its use is decided by a patient’s doctor depending on specific circumstances, so do not use aspirin in combination with other anticoagulants unless you have explicit permission from your doctor that includes dosage recommendations.
As to your vitamin E and tocoferol supplementation, specific supplementation with vitamin E to prevent cardiac disease is no longer recommended. An INCREASED cardiac event risk was discovered several years ago in patients prescribed vitamin E (a tocoferol) as a supplement, whether or not it was used in combination with other antioxidants. Supplementation with vitamin E is now reserved for those with specific deficiency and has no role in the general prevention of heart disease. However, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been associated with a lowered risk for coronary artery disease. We do not regard it as a blood thinner, though some of its benefits are still being discovered. We may find that it may have direct and indirect effects on activation of platelets as well as other actions. Omega-3 and aspirin are commonly prescribed in combination for selected at-risk patients with no apparent redundancy.

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