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Issue 137 - August 2012 (2nd Edition) - Page 12

Misleading Health Advice Email - 'Mayo Clinic on Aspirin and Heart Attacks'

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Outline
Message claiming to be from the Mayo Clinic offers health advice related to the use of aspirin for preventing heart attacks.



Brief Analysis
While there are elements of truth in the message, the advice did not come from the Mayo Clinic or from Dr Virend Somers. The Mayo Clinic has warned that some of the information in the message is inaccurate and potentially harmful and recommends that people always consult a doctor before commencing heart related aspirin therapy.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.





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Last updated: August 9, 2012
First published: August 9, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Subject: Mayo Clinic on Aspirin and Heart Attacks

Mayo Clinic on Aspirin

Dr. Virend Somers, is a Cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic, and lead author of the report in the July 29, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Most heart attacks occur in the day, generally between 6 A.M. and noon. Having one during the night, when the heart should be most at rest, means
that something unusual happened. Somers and his colleagues have been working for a decade to show that sleep apnea is to blame.

1. If you take an aspirin or a baby aspirin once a day, take it at night.
The reason: Aspirin has a 24-hour "half-life"; therefore, if most heart attacks happen in the wee hours of the morning, the Aspirin would be strongest in your system.

2. FYI, Aspirin lasts a really long time in your medicine chest for years, (when it gets old, it smells like vinegar).

Please read on.
Something that we can do to help ourselves - nice to know.
· Bayer is making crystal aspirin to dissolve instantly on the tongue. They work much faster than the tablets.
· Why keep Aspirin by your bedside? It's about Heart Attacks - There are other symptoms of a heart attack, besides the pain on the left arm. One must also be aware of an intense pain on the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating; however, these symptoms may also occur less frequently. Note: There may be NO pain in the chest during a heart attack.

· The majority of people (about 60%) who had a heart attack during their sleep did not wake up. However, if it occurs, the chest pain may wake you up from your deep sleep.

· If that happens, immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth and swallow them with a bit of water. Afterwards:
*Call 911.
*Phone a neighbor or a family member who lives very close by.
*Say "heart attack!"
*Say that you have taken 2 Aspirins.
*Take a seat on a chair or sofa near the front door, and wait for their arrival and
*DO NOT LIE DOWN!

A Cardiologist has stated that if each person, after receiving this e-mail, sends it to 10 people, probably one life could be saved!
I have already shared this information. What about you?

Do forward this message. It may save lives!




Detailed Analysis
This message, which has circulated in various forms since at least 2010, claims to contain advice from prestigious medical institution, the Mayo Clinic about heart attacks and the use of aspirin to prevent them. The message suggests that the information is from a report by Mayo Clinic cardiologist, Dr. Virend Somers.

However the information is not from the Mayo Clinic. And, while Dr Virend Somers is indeed a Mayo Clinic Cardiovascular Diseases specialist, he did not write or in any way endorse the information contained in the above email forward. In February 2010, Lee Aase, one of the leaders of the Mayo Clinic's Social Media Center, posted the following disclaimer on the clinic's news blog:

We have been informed of a recently circulated email regarding the use of aspirin, which included mention of Dr. Virend Somers and of Mayo Clinic. Neither Dr. Somers nor Mayo Clinic contributed to this email, which contains some information that is inaccurate and potentially harmful. We recommend that you speak with your physician if you have specific questions.

In a further comment on the same page, Lee Aase adds :

While the first two paragraphs are for the most part correct the rest of the email should be discussed with your physician
In general, we do not recommend obtaining advice on medical treatment from chain mailings, especially when they are of uncertain origin.

Aspirin is indeed appropriate for a heart attack but as with any medication, treatment needs to be individualized for each patient. There is no evidence to support potentially harmful recommendations such as not to lie down if you are having a heart attack. We cannot address other specific aspects of the emails since there have been many variations in their content. We recommend you discuss this with your physician.

And an article about Aspirin therapy published on the Mayo Clinic website explains:

Daily aspirin therapy may lower your risk of heart attack, but daily aspirin therapy isn't for everyone. Is it right for you?

You should a daily aspirin only if your doctor advises you to do so. If you have had a heart attack or stroke, your doctor will likely recommend you take a daily aspirin unless you have a serious allergy or history of bleeding. If you have a high risk of having a first heart attack, your doctor might recommend aspirin after weighing the risks and benefits. You shouldn't start daily aspirin therapy on your own.

Although taking an occasional aspirin or two is safe for most adults to use for headaches, body aches or fever, daily use of aspirin can have serious side effects, including internal bleeding.

Thus, although aspirin may be helpful for preventing heart attacks, the information in the message is misleading and should not be considered as accurate health advice. To reiterate, health experts maintain that it important that people seek the advice of their doctor before beginning to take aspirin for heart attack prevention or before using any other heart attack prevention techniques that they may have read in an email forward.

It is interesting to note that the claim "A Cardiologist has stated that if each person, after receiving this e-mail, sends it to 10 people, probably one life could be saved" is included, almost verbatim, in another bogus health advice message about heart attacks and "cough CPR".


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References
Dr Virend Somers
Misleading Aspirin Email
Daily aspirin therapy: Understand the benefits and risks
How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone Hoax

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Issue 137 Start Menu

Pages in this issue:
  1. Anti Text-Driving Message - Car Wedged Under Truck Image
  2. Nationwide Phishing Scam Emails
  3. Faux Image - Double Sunset on Mars
  4. Microsoft Cyber-Crime Department Phishing Scam
  5. Does A Photo Depict A Puppy Being Forced to Drink Vodka?
  6. Post Circulating Claims Hotel Made Disabled US Veteran Crawl Down Stairs
  7. AFL vs NRL - Wrongdoings of Australian Members of Parliament Hoax
  8. Three.co.uk Phishing Scam
  9. Another Facebook Sick Baby Hoax - Baby With Brain Cancer
  10. Circulating Opinion Piece - 'Democratic, Republican Liberal-Progressive's Worst Nightmare'
  11. Fake Three (Or Seven) Headed Snake Image
  12. Misleading Health Advice Email - 'Mayo Clinic on Aspirin and Heart Attacks'
  13. Facebook Survey Scam - Free Argos Gift Card
  14. 'Email Deactivation Warning' Phishing Scam
  15. Anti-Obama Youtube Video Compiles Multiple Conspiracy Theories
  16. Fake AT&T Bill Emails Point To Malware
  17. Messages Claim Coca Cola to be Banned In Bolivia
  18. 'Free Apple Product' Text Message Survey Scam
  19. Circulating Warning - Facebook May Close Down Animal Rescue Account'
  20. 2012 FIFA World Cup Online Lottery Advance Fee Scam
  21. Email Claiming US Gold Medal Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas Faces Lifetime Ban Used to Spread Malware
  22. Bigpond Security Service Phishing Scam
  23. Wrestling Star John Cena is NOT Dead
  24. Hoax - NASA Predicts Total Blackout of Planet in Dec 2012
  25. Wrestling Star Undertaker is NOT Dead
  26. Colin And Chris Weir Donation Programme Advance Fee Scam
  27. US EPA Regulations Force Power Plant Closures
  28. 'View Facebook Followers' Scam Targets Twitter Users
  29. Lloyds TSB 'New Banking Authentication' Phishing Scam
  30. Faux Image - Pilots Protesting Chemtrails
  31. Telstra Bill Account Update Phishing Scam
  32. McDonald’s Signboard Supporting Chick-Fil-A
  33. ABSA 'Authorized EFT Payment Received' Phishing Scam
  34. Hoax Picture - Obama Holding Phone Upside Down
  35. 'eBay Item Not Received' Phishing Scam Email
  36. Wells Fargo 'Security Check' Phishing Scam
  37. False Warnings - 'Cleaning out Friends List' Questions on Facebook Contain Viruses or are Posted by Hackers