FDA no longer recommending Baby Aspirin Preventative
Acupuncture, Self-Care

Daily ‘Baby Aspirin’: FDA now says risks may outweigh benefits

Daily aspirin no longer recommended by FDA as a preventativeFDA’s New Position on Daily ‘Baby Aspirin’

Growing up I heard repeatedly the importance of taking a low-dose daily aspirin (i.e. baby aspirin) to prevent heart attack. If you grew up with the same story, the FDA’s 2014 change of position might come as a surprise, if you haven’t already heard it. In their Consumer Update, they wrote:

“…, [A]fter carefully examining scientific data from major studies, FDA has concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called ‘primary prevention.’ In such people, the benefit has not been established but risks—such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach—are still present.”

Special concern applies to anyone already taking other blood thinners, such as warfarin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and apixiban (Eliquis).

Should everyone avoid taking baby aspirin?

In short, no. Dr. Robert Temple, deputy director for clinical science at the FDA at the time emphasizes, “Since the 1990s, clinical data have shown that in people who have experienced a heart attack, stroke or who have a disease of the blood vessels in the heart, a daily low dose of aspirin can help prevent a reoccurrence.” How do you know which is appropriate for you? Talk to your primary care physician.

What are my alternatives?

The common denominators are always proper diet and establishing healthy eating habits, exercise, maintain a healthy blood pressure, quit smoking if you haven’t already, and stress reduction. Did you know acupuncture can help with almost all these efforts? To learn more, consider reading, “Give Your Cardiovascular Health a Boost with Acupuncture.” Additionally, establishing a daily meditation routine can do wonders. Not convinced? Consider a 2012 study, that found “African Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly [twice daily for 20 minutes] were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with African Americans who attended a health education class over more than five years.” I’d say that sounds worth it. Would you?


Scalp acupuncture for stroke

Scalp Acupuncture for Stroke Recovery: A Case of Cerebellar Stroke

Scalp acupuncture for stroke

Scalp Acupuncture for Stroke

While much of acupuncture is treating acupoints on the body, there is a subset of our practice known as “scalp acupuncture.” Instead of treating acupoints, this system treats ‘zones’ on the head, e.g. “Vertigo and hearing area,” or “Leg motor and sensory area.” These zones tend to be a number of centimeters long. Needles are inserted horizontal to the scalp and twirled rapidly.  In the case of using scalp acupuncture for stroke recovery, an acupuncturist would likely treat corresponding zones to the areas affected, e.g. in the case of cerebellar stroke, they might be treating the “Balance area,” a four-centimeter long line that is 3 cm lateral to the external occiput protuberance, parallel to the midline of the head and extending downward.

Zhu’s Scalp Technique

Professor Zhu Ming Qing developed this excellent system, “Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture Technique,” in the 1970’s; it is one of four known scalp acupuncture techniques in China. He now practices in San Jose, CA. Here’s a great video of watching the technique in action:

Scalp Acupuncture for Stroke: Studies

A 2012 meta-analysis concluded: “SA [scalp acupuncture] appears to be able to improve neurological deficit score and the clinical effective rate when compared with WCM [Western conventional medicines]….” Similarly, a 2014 meta-analysis found, “Baihui (GV20)-based scalp acupuncture could improve infarct volume and neurological function score and exert potential neuroprotective role in experimental ischemic stroke [GV20 is an acupoint on the top of the head; this is a different system from Zhu’s].”

Be informed, Have hope

I’ve seen the effects of disability after stroke firsthand in my family (long before I got into acupuncture); and while I don’t believe acupuncture is the answer to every problem; it is *an* answer. When the effects of disability can last a lifetime, why not be informed of all your options? Whether you “believe” in Chinese medicine or not, I highly encourage you to talk about acupuncture for stroke recovery with the people in your life. Stroke treatment with acupuncture is something that needs to be done *as soon as possible* after the event, with frequent recurring treatment until resolved (3-7 treatments/week for 2-4+ weeks). With time being of the essence, knowing about this option before having an episode could radically improve someone you know’s quality of life. Please share!