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Thread: Health Officials Discourage Aspirin Use by Troops in Combat Zones

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    Health Officials Discourage Aspirin Use by Troops in Combat Zones

    Medical news-

    American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, May 1, 2009 – The Defense Department is directing servicemembers and government civilians deployed in overseas war zones to refrain from taking aspirin unless under a doctor’s orders, a senior military physician said here today.

    “Aspirin use for reasons other than medical indications is discouraged,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Tony Carter, director for operational medicine and medical force readiness under the deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection, a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

    Military medical authorities also advise that troops slated for deployment to combat zones should cease taking aspirin at least 10 days before departure, Carter told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters.

    Aspirin is “a platelet-inhibitor,” Carter explained. Platelets are small cells floating in the blood that induce hemostasis — the process that causes bleeding to stop through the forming of blood clots. Low amounts of blood platelets can lead to excessive bleeding.

    “Those platelets serve an important role in stopping bleeding once it occurs,” Carter said.

    Then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. S. Ward Casscells III signed a March 12 memorandum that noted aspirin use by troops deployed in contingency areas could contribute to excessive bleeding in the event of wounding or injury.

    Blood loss is the most common cause of preventable death associated with combat injuries, the memorandum said.

    Carter recalled Casscells asking his staff if the military was discouraging aspirin use by people deploying to combat zones where they stood risk of injury. The answer at the time was no, Carter said.

    The subsequent memorandum, Carter said, also directed the cessation of “over-the-counter access” to aspirin through Army and Air Force Exchange Service outlets or morale, welfare and recreation activities in war zones. AAFES has jurisdiction over Army post exchanges and Air Force base exchanges.

    AAFES is complying with the Health Affairs-issued memorandum, noting in a news release that its “operations in contingency locations are removing all products containing aspirin from their shelves.”

    The intent of the new policy, Carter said, is to “discourage the inadvertent use of aspirin” in combat zones. People who routinely take small doses of aspirin per doctor’s orders to maintain vascular health should be all right, he said, but they should consult their physician.

    Servicemembers and civilians could substitute over-the-counter, non-aspirin-based medications – such as Tylenol or Motrin — for treatment of colds, fever, muscle aches and other maladies, Carter said.

    “I think we should take every measure possible to make sure that we minimize blood loss,” Carter said. “And, not taking aspirin, unless you need to take it, is one of those mechanisms that we want to use.”
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    Aspirin

    It has been my experience that most aid stations, treatment teams, and line medics only carry tylenol (acetaminophen) or motrin (ibuprofen). The only reason to carry aspirin would be for use as an antipyretic and tylenol does that job. Releases like this one makes me wonder about the higher ups sometimes. We have had active CZs for almost eight years now and they are just getting around to making this proclamation?

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    What about taking omega 3's/fish oil?? I have read that this too can decrease blood clotting. CrossFit's Coach Glassman does not recommend even small amounts for cops or deploying military personnel.

    Anyone have any medical information on this?
    Si vis pacem, para bellum !

    The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone. They are not representative of any group to which I belong.

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    Ibuprofen would also be a problem in this case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mark1JT View Post
    What about taking omega 3's/fish oil?? I have read that this too can decrease blood clotting. CrossFit's Coach Glassman does not recommend even small amounts for cops or deploying military personnel.

    Anyone have any medical information on this?
    I don't have technical info. But my dad had a blood clot in January and was put on warfarin as a blood thinner. He was told that the fish oil does not really thin the blood and decrease clotting and that he could continue to take his fish oil pills at the same time he was taken his recommended dose of warfarin. Use this as info for further investigation. I am just passing on what he told me since this was a concern of his.

    I take rather large doses of fish oil and flax oil (2-3 fish oil and 1-2 flax oil a day plus a krill oil) and have no problems when I cut myself having it clot right up.
    Last edited by chadbag; 05-26-09 at 05:32.
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    Its pretty amazing how long lasting the effects are of just one aspirin tablet can be.
    We see it in surgery quite often, then patient will admit to taking an aspirin several days before skin was cut, and we all wonder why the blood loss is abnormally high..

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    Quote Originally Posted by tpd223 View Post
    Ibuprofen would also be a problem in this case.
    We tell our patients not to take aspirin for 7 days prior to surgery and then instructions after surgery are no ibuprofen or aspirin for at least the first 24-48 hours after surgery.

    However unplanned events occur...most cardiac patients are on daily aspirin so they are at higher risk for bleeding....even lose-dose aspirin makes a huge difference in patients who are sensitive to the effects of aspirin.... we have patients who come in bruised all over just from day to day activities.

    I don't see the bleeding effects as much in patients who use ibuprofen/aleve (NSAID's besides aspirin)exclusively.

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    Does the long-term thinning effect of aspirin also apply to the 81mg dosages?

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    Quote Originally Posted by shep854 View Post
    Does the long-term thinning effect of aspirin also apply to the 81mg dosages?
    Do you mean taking a dose daily?

    I do see increased bruising and bleeding even in patients only taking the "low-dose" 81mg once a day but for them the benefits outweigh the risk of taking the aspirin (i.e. cardiac patients).
    Cardiac Nurse

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    I'm over 50, and my doctor has approved an aspirin regimen as a precaution, even though I have not had active heart problems. Thankfully, I haven't seen any obvious problems, even after nicking myself shaving, etc.

    Of course, some doctors consider any arterial deposits "disease", even when well inside safe range.

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