Health & Fitness

The docs: Don’t tolerate an aspirin allergy misdiagnosis

In the 1976 film “Network,” moviegoers applauded when evening news anchor Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) screamed “I’m not going to take this anymore!” But if you think you’re allergic to aspirin and have decided YOU’RE not going to take it anymore, it may not be the best idea.

Many people are told that they’re allergic to aspirin when really they’re having a non-allergic reaction. That’s a shame. Aspirin is an effective, low-cost treatment for preventing a second heart attack or stroke (not to mention nine cancers, including breast, colon, liver, kidney and brain). And some experts believe it’s also useful for prevention of potentially fatal first-time cardio events in high-risk folks. Even if you don’t have a reason to take aspirin today, tomorrow you could find yourself in need of one of medicine’s oldest remedies.

According to new research from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “34 percent of [cardiovascular] patients studied were mistakenly labeled as having aspirin hypersensitivity,” and none of the patients who were told they were hypersensitive were referred to an allergist for testing.

The reason you need to find out whether you’re allergic (very rare) or just don’t tolerate the med well is because treatment options can allow you to take aspirin. Your first step: See an allergist; find one at allergyandasthmarelief.org.

We’ve long advocated taking two 81-mg aspirin at night, with a warm glass of water before and after. We don’t want to see you denied the cardiovascular (and cancer prevention) benefits of this amazing and time-honored medication.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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