Should You Be Taking an Aspirin a Day to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke?

Aging, Heart Health Steward Health Care

There’s a lot of research in the medical community about the benefits of taking a daily dose of aspirin to lower the risk of heart attack and clot-related strokes. But before you head to the pharmacy, it’s best to talk with your doctor and consider some of these facts before beginning an aspirin-a-day regimen.

A daily aspirin isn’t right for everyone. There may be a benefit to daily aspirin use if someone has a type of heart or blood vessel disease, or if they have evidence of poor blood flow to the brain.

“A lot of doctors prescribe aspirin to their patients who have cardiovascular disease or who have already had a heart attack or stroke as aspirin has been proven to be helpful when used daily to lower the risk of heart attack, clot-related strokes and other blood flow problems,” says Steward Health Care Cardiologist Daniela Capriles, MD. “But, there can be risks associated with the long-term aspirin use, which may be greater than the benefits if someone has no signs of or risk factors for heart or blood vessel disease.”

There may be serious side effects with daily aspirin use, including stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, kidney failure, and certain kinds of strokes. Also, some medical conditions, such as pregnancy, uncontrolled high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, asthma, stomach ulcers, and liver and kidney disease, could make aspirin a bad choice.

Daily aspirin use is safest when prescribed by a medical health professional. Before deciding if a daily aspirin is right for you, your doctor will need to review:

  • Your medical history and the history of your family members
  • Your current prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as dietary supplements, including vitamins and herbs
  • Any medication allergies or sensitivities
  • The benefits of a daily aspirin
  • The risks of a daily aspirin
  • Any potential side effects
  • The dose and directions for use that is best for you

If your doctor decides that a daily aspirin is right for you, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions for safe use. The label on a bottle of aspirin doesn’t contain directions for the proper use to reduce the risk of heart attack or clot-related stroke. Your doctor will need to provide you with the correct information on dose and directions for use. You will receive the greatest benefits, and the fewest unwanted side effects, if you use aspirin correctly.

*Source: Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov

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