When I was a kid, I convinced my mom to try putting cake frosting on pie.
No. It was a dud. It wasn’t awful. It just wasn’t very good. That was the first time I learned that good added to good does not necessarily equal better. And it often equals worse.
I guess we all learn that lesson at some point. But it’s so much better to learn it with pie and frosting than by giving hundreds of stroke patients two “good” drugs.
Those are the bare bones of a new study that turned deadly.
Unfortunately, the two drugs are very popular. So there could be many thousands, even millions of people taking both.
They have no idea they’re walking a dangerous line.
Déjà vu all over again
The drugs are two all-time bestsellers — Plavix and aspirin.
Both of the drugs reduce clotting. Generally, less clotting means lower stroke risk. So it’s customary to give this sort of drug to stroke patients.
Canadian researchers hoped that giving both drugs to stroke patients would further reduce risk of a second stroke.
The double-treatment created no extra benefits over eight years.
Meanwhile… Big problems. Here’s what one of the researchers told HealthDay News… “The two together caused more bleeding and higher mortality. The higher mortality was completely unexpected.”
Completely unexpected? Really? Because it should have been COMPLETELY expected.
Six years ago, U.S. researchers tested Plavix combined with aspirin on subjects with cardiovascular risk factors. They hoped that stroke and heart attack risks would be lower than if subjects used either of the drugs alone.
There was no benefit in combining the drugs. But the heart-disease death rate almost doubled among subjects who took both drugs.
Apparently, the Canadian researchers were not aware of this 2006 study. So if it didn’t show up on THEIR radar, you’ve got to think there are many doctors and patients who also don’t know about the risk either.
This past spring, Plavix went off patent. So sales of this popular drug are probably higher than ever. Many doctors might prescribe it to just about anyone with a heart disease risk factor. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity — that’s just the start of a long list!
And many of those doctors and patients will have this conversation…
“Should I also take a daily aspirin?”
“Sure! Couldn’t hurt!”
Unfortunately, that’s the general take on aspirin. It’s gentle. It’s safe. You’ve heard it all. But here’s a note from the FDA that I’m sure most people have never heard…
“The same properties that make aspirin work in stopping blood from clotting may also cause unwanted side effects, such as stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, kidney failure, and other kinds of strokes.”
Add Plavix and you’ve got serious trouble.
Please share this with anyone you know who may have heart risk factors. There’s a good chance they might be taking this dangerous drug combo.
“Adding Plavix to Aspirin Doesn’t Help Guard Against Second Stroke: Study” HealthDay News, 8/29/12, healthday.com
“Plavix fails test to widen its use” USA Today, 3/12/06, usatoday.com