Before cardiac surgery, be sure to ask your doctor not to give you aprotinin (Trasylol), a drug that has been proven to double a patient's risk of kidney failure and increase the risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

Aprotinin has been given to an estimated one million cardiac surgery patients to limit bleeding. Using the cheaper (one-tenth the cost) and safer generic alternatives aminocaproic acid or tranexamic acid provides the same benefit without the adverse side effects.

Caution: Just because a drug has FDA approval doesn't make it safe-the FDA and the manufacturers don't necessarily do continuing studies after it's on the market.

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