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Aspirin & Omega-3 Drug Interaction

By Adam Cloe Ph.D./M.D.

People in the United States use more omega-3 fatty acids than any other non-vitamin or non-mineral supplement, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Products that contain these fats are generally safe, but can negatively interact with some medications, including aspirin. Talk to your doctor before you take omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Identification

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many foods, including flaxseed oil and fatty fish, such as sardines, lake trout and mackerel. Your body lacks the enzymes needed to make omega-3 fatty acids, but they are essential for brain function and overall growth and development. This means that you need to get omega-3 fatty acids from your food or from supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help prevent some health problems, including conditions caused by inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

Omega-3 and Cardiovascular Disease

Omega-3 fatty acids have a number of effects on the human body, which allow them to your reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. These beneficial fats can lower your blood pressure levels, which reduces the strain on your heart. They also lower triglycerides, a type of lipid associated with atherosclerosis, while boosting your levels of HDL cholesterol, also known as the "good" cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids also make it harder for platelets to stick together, thus reducing blood clots.

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Aspirin and Blood Clotting

Many people who have an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke take a daily dose of aspirin. In addition to its role as a pain reliever, aspirin also interferes with an enzyme known as cyclooxygenase. Platelets need this enzyme in order to make compounds that induce blood clotting. Blood clots can cause a heart attack or a stroke, so by inhibiting blood clotting, aspirin reduces your risk of developing these conditions.

Aspirin and Omega-3 Interactions

Talk to a doctor before you take omega-3 fatty acid supplements if you are taking aspirin or use aspirin as a pain reliever. Taking both aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids can make it too hard for your blood to clot, resulting in easy bruising and bleeding. On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids may be added to aspirin therapy to reduce blood clotting in patients who have a high risk of developing blood clots and are resistant to other treatments.

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