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

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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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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

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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Last updated: August 9, 2012
First published: August 9, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
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