If you’re a tuna fish lover but also consistently popping aspirin for headaches, it might be time to reconsider mixing the two. New findings presented on November 10 at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions annual meeting found that levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood might change the effects that aspirin has on heart health, LiveScience reports.
Aspirin is often prescribed to patients at risk of heart attacks, as the medicine acts as an anti-coagulant, helping to prevent blood clots. On the other hand, omega-3s have also been thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, but researchers are finding that the mix of the two might be harmful.
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The senior author of the study, Dr. Robert Block, found that mixing low doses of omega-3 fatty acids—many people take them in supplemental form—with aspirin might actually increase your risk for heart disease. In a 2015 study, Block looked at what happened in the blood of 30 participants when they took aspirin and fish oil together, and found that at moderate levels of omega-3s in the blood, the combination of the two could affect platelets, or cells that play a role in blood clotting, and could also lead to blockages in blood vessels.
In the newest finding, Block looked to a study that dated back to 1948, called the Framingham Heart Study. Through this large database, Block and his team discovered that people who took aspirin daily and also consumed a low-dose of omega-3s had around a two-fold increased risk of developing heart disease, compared with those who took neither substance. Additionally, Block found that those who didn’t take aspirin but consumed the same low amount of omega-3s had a 55 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who didn’t take omega-3s.
Although these are significant findings, Block mentions that the new findings should be interpreted with caution and need to be tested more, before recommendations for aspirin intake are changed.