Dr. Shalini Patel of AbsoluteCARE

Ask The Doctor: A daily aspirin regimen and the danger of malaria

Q: Is malaria a danger if I travel to India?

A: Yes, malaria is still an active disease in India and most travelers should receive medications to prevent them from contracting malaria before traveling. There are very few areas in India where malaria is not known to occur. In particular, these are areas above 2000 meters above sea level in the high mountain regions bordering China and Nepal that includes Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Kashmir and Sikkim. All other travelers should see their physician and start medication before travel. This includes expatriates as well as new travelers, as all are at risk. While in the country, travelers should cover exposed skin areas by wearing long sleeved clothing and hats. Liberal use of insect repellent is also recommended to decrease the chance of mosquito bites.

Shalini Patel, MD

Q: I’m 55 years old and in good health, but my doctor wants me to take a baby aspirin daily. Do I need to?

A: Atherosclerotic Vascular Diseases (Predominantly “stroke and heart attack”) remains the most common cause of death in the United States. The primary prevention for this issue is a healthy lifestyle.

Eating a healthy diet, getting exercise, no tobacco use and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol are the first recommendations. In addition, research has shown that a low-dose aspirin daily for extended periods of time reduces vascular disease risk.

The Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends healthy patients from ages 50-59 who have no increased risk of bleeding and a greater than 10 year expected survival take daily low-dose aspirin (baby aspirin or ASA 81 mg) to prevent vascular disease. Patients ages 60-69 with increased risk of vascular disease also benefit from low dose aspirin. This decision, of course should be discussed with your personal medical provider.

USPSTF has concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to assess risk versus benefits of low-dose aspirin in patients younger than 50 or older than 70.

David Stahura, DO

Ask The Doctor is a monthly health column where the experts at AbsoluteCARE answer your pressing medical questions. Have a question you want answered? Email it to askthedoctor@thegavoice.com!