Friday, May 1, 2009

Take Two Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning-NOT ANYMORE!!!

Health Officials Discourage Aspirin Use by Troops in Combat Zones

WASHINGTON, April 30, 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.”

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service


MightyMom said...

actually, unless you've had a heart attack and are PRESCRIBED an aspirin every day, NO ONE should take aspirin. Particularly not children!! (for the record, Excedrin and Pepto Bismol have aspirin)

Hammer said...

Great information. It will hopefully save lives.

I take about 10 aspirin per day maybe I should cut back.

AirmanMom said...

mightymom...thank you for this information! Thanks for stopping by!

AirmanMom said...

hammer...I am not a doctor, only a mom... but I am concerned about the number of aspirin you take each day (unless prescribed by a doctor!) Take care of yourself, my friend!

Mary Ellen said...

There you go, teaching me things again. And on a Friday, too!

AirmanMom said...

ME...yep, even on a Friday we all can learn something new! Thank you for taking the time to stop by, I wish you a good weekend!

Single and loving it said...

AirmanMom, your blogs always teach me something I hadn't known about the military. Thank you for taking the time to teach us the ins and outs.God Bless all of our troops and their families.

Single and loving it said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
coffeypot said...

During my single days I dated a few nurses and I was told this back then. Aspirin taken on a regular daily, non-prescription bases can also cause stomach ulcers. But I was wondering why a trooper with vascular problems is on the front lines anyway.

AirmanMom said...

single...our troops deserve to be in our minds and on our hearts constantly, they protect us constantly! Thanks for stopping by!

AirmanMom said... make an excellent point. Thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog.

Kanani said...

Yes, prior to surgery we always told patients NOT to take any medication, especially aspirin.

This is especially necessary for soldiers on the front line. If they get hurt, the blood loss and inability to staunch it quickly could be devastating.

AirmanMom said...

kanani...I do appreciate your words!