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