I recently received a question asking, “is it better to take a baby aspirin or pycnogenol, a natural bark extract, to prevent blood clots (platelet aggregation) and improve heart health?”
Take aspirin if your doctor concurs. “The degree of measured anti-inflammatory potential of pycnogenol on COX enzymes (targets of Aspirin) are still lower than Aspirin itself.” (COX enzymes makes prostaglandins, creating inflammation. Aspirin prevents the prostaglandins from ever being synthesized).
What Aspirin Does
Aspirin interferes with your blood’s clotting action. When you bleed, your blood’s clotting cells, called platelets, build up at the site of your wound. Aspirin therapy reduces the clumping action of platelets in the vessels that supply blood to the heart and possibly prevents a heart attack. Aspirin “thins” the blood and helps prevent blood clots from forming. So it helps prevent heart attack and stroke. Aspirin also helps reduce inflammation. It has been suggested that inflammation may play a major role in cardiovascular disease.
For individuals who have already had a heart attack or stroke, or have other evidence of coronary artery disease, such as angina or a history of a coronary bypass operation or coronary angioplasty, the FDA states that there is more benefit than risk of taking aspirin. They feel that the available evidence does not supports the use of aspirin for preventing a heart attack or strok and that there are risks of bleed in the brain and stomach.
To see the guidelines about taking aspirin, go to this Mayo Clinic article: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/daily-aspirin-therapy/ART-20046797
You should not start aspirin therapy without discussing it with your doctor. The benefits and risks of aspirin therapy vary for each person.