Fact: Daily Use Of Aspirin Is Not Right For Everyone
Aspirin has been shown to be helpful when used daily to lower the risk of heart attack, clot-related strokes and other blood flow problems in patients who have cardiovascular disease or who have already had a heart attack or stroke. Many medical professionals prescribe aspirin for these uses. There may be a benefit to daily aspirin use for you if you have some kind of heart or blood vessel disease, or if you have evidence of poor blood flow to the brain. However, the risks of long-term aspirin use may be greater than the benefits if there are no signs of, or risk factors for heart or blood vessel disease.
Every prescription and over-the-counter medicine has benefits and risks even such a common and familiar medicine as aspirin. Aspirin use can result in serious side effects, such as stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, and kidney failure. No medicine is completely safe. By carefully reviewing many different factors, your health professional can help you make the best choice for you.
When you don’t have the labeling directions to guide you, you need the medical knowledge of your doctor, nurse practitioner, or other health professional.
How Much Should I Take
Research says between 80 milligrams and 160 milligrams per day. This is less than half of the standard 325-milligram aspirin most people are prescribed.
Many studies show the lower dose works just as well as the higher dose. It also drops your risk of internal bleeding. A baby aspirin contains 81 milligrams. There are other lower-dose adult aspirins available.
Check with your doctor first to find out what dose is right for you.
Aspirin For Healthy People
When aspirin is used to prevent cardiovascular disease, the scales tip more toward harm. For every 10,000 people taking low-dose aspirin, seven people will be helpedmostly by preventing heart attacksto every four harmed. These numbers are averages, so the risk faced by an individual depends on his or her particular characteristics. The chance that aspirin will help rises with additional risk factors, like older age, being overweight, smoking, and having high cholesterol. The risk of bleeding also rises with agebut then so does the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and the potential benefit of taking aspirin.
A study in the June 6, 2012, Journal of the American Medical Association stoked the ongoing debate about low-dose aspirin for primary prevention. Researchers examined the health records of nearly 400,000 people in the Italian National Health Service. Twenty out of every 10,000 people experienced a major bleedfive times higher than the bleeding rate seen in previous clinical trials. Is this bad news for people taking aspirin?
Because millions of Americans are now taking low-dose aspirin, even a small increase in the risk of major bleeding could affect a lot of people. But fundamentally, the Italian study told us what we already knew: “The balance between risk and benefit of aspirin for primary prevention is very narrow,” Dr. Bhatt says, “and in many people the bleeding risk may outweigh the potential benefits.”
Should You Chew And Swallow An Aspirin
If you have ever had a heart attack, your doctor has probably told you to carry an aspirin or two with you at all times and to chew and swallow one immediately if you ever think you might be having another heart attack. While you are dialing 911, he or she probably said, chew and swallow an aspirin.
To Help Prevent Another Heart Attack
A doctor-directed aspirin regimen helps keep your blood flowing. Along with other heart-healthy choices, it can reduce your risk of having another heart attack.
Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
Surviving a heart attack can mean youre at a higher risk for another.The good news: you can still manage other risk factors.
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Is Taking Aspirin Good For Your Heart
If youve had a heart attack or stroke, theres no doubt that taking low-dose aspirin is beneficial, says Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of preventive cardiology for the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. But if you dont have heart disease, should you take it just in case? The answer for most individuals is probably not.
Whats The Link Between Aspirin And Heart Attack Prevention
Aspirin is a blood thinner. It may help prevent heart attacks by making it harder for platelets in the blood to clot.
Blood clots are part of a healthy circulatory system. When youre wounded, clotting prevents excess blood loss.
Clots become dangerous when they move around the body or stop the flow of blood to important organs. A heart attack occurs when platelets form a clot that blocks the flow of blood to the heart.
This is more likely to occur among people who have certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. These conditions weaken and narrow the arteries, making it harder for blood to circulate freely.
If you have risk factors for blood clots, your doctor might prescribe a blood thinner to reduce your risk for a heart attack.
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What Is Aspirin Pills Good For
In addition to reducing fever, aspirin is also used to relieve mild to moderate pain from conditions such as muscle aches, toothaches, common colds, and headaches. In addition to reducing pain and swelling, it may also be used to treat arthritis. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug , aspirin is also known as salicylate.
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When To Call The Doctor
Side effects can be any signs of unusual bleeding:
- Blood in the urine or stools
- Unusually heavy menstrual bleeding or unexpected vaginal bleeding
- Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
Other side effects can be dizziness or difficulty swallowing.
Side effects include swelling in your face or hands. Call your provider if you have itching, hives, or tingling in your face or hands, very bad stomach pain, or a skin rash.
Cardiovascular Disease And Aspirin Therapy
Heart attacks and strokes cause almost a million deaths every year in the U.S. The culprits are blood clots, which choke off the blood supply to vital organs. Aspirin works on blood cells that cause clots , making blood less likely to clot.
So if clots cause cardiovascular disease, and aspirin helps prevents clots, taking aspirin should be a no-brainer, right?
Not so fast. Aspirins benefit comes at a cost an increased risk of bleeding, which usually occurs in the stomach, intestine and other gastrointestinal areas. While most of this type of bleeding is minor and stops on its own, it can be life-threatening. And theres no sure way to predict if or when it will happen.
No medicine is innocuous, says Terry Jacobson, MD, director of the Office of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Emory University in Atlanta. Anyone whos not at a high risk of heart disease has to weigh the benefits against the risks.
The right time to take aspirin is when the benefits reducing risk from heart attacks and strokes outweigh the risk of aspirin itself: dangerous stomach bleeding. This is a decision that can only be made between you and your doctor, but learning your own risk level can help you feel good about your choice.
Is Daily Aspirin Right For You
Doctors typically prescribe daily aspirin therapy for people who have certain cardiovascular risk factors.
You might benefit from taking aspirin every day if you answer yes to one or more of the following questions:
- Have you previously had a heart attack?
- Have you previously had a clot-related stroke?
- Have you had a stent inserted in a coronary artery?
- Do you have chest pain caused by angina?
- Have you had coronary bypass surgery?
- Are you a man over 50 or a woman over 60 with diabetes and at least one other heart disease risk factor?
- Do you have a family history of heart attacks?
If you think youre at risk, make an appointment to discuss daily aspirin with a doctor.
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What Should You Do
For the time being, the science remains uncertain and experts don’t agree on who should take aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke. In Europe, for example, guidelines for cardiology do not recommend aspirin for primary prevention, citing an unfavorable ratio of risk to benefit. In the United States, the FDA has not approved any labeling for aspirin bottles regarding its use in preventing cardiovascular disease.
That may change in a few years, as results from new and better primary prevention trials are released. In the meantime, make sure you know where you stand on the scale of risk and benefit. And if you have prescribed yourself low-dose aspirin because of what you’ve read in the health pressseriously consider a chat with your doctor.
So Who Is Really Affected By These New Guidelines
Most people already taking daily low-dose aspirin will not be affected by the new recommended guidelines. The biggest change is for people age 60 and older who have no known heart disease and are not already taking baby aspirin. This is the only group now being told that the benefits of daily aspirin use may not outweigh the risks. Anyone already taking aspirin because they have elevated risk factors will likely be told by their doctor to continue to take aspirin because the benefits are worth it.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medication, including low-dose aspirin.
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Should Everyone Stop Taking Low
No. There are still many people who will benefit from continuing to take daily low-dose aspirin. These include people who have already had a heart attack or stroke, as well as those who are at high risk of having one. But for others who may not be at as high a risk, the bleeding risks associated with daily aspirin use may outweigh any potential benefits.
How Does Aspirin Help The Heart
It eases inflammation. Plaque may be more likely to cause a heart attack or stroke if itâs inflamed. Aspirin blocks an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. That makes your body less likely to produce chemicals that can help cause inflammation.
It helps prevent blood clots. Some chemicals in the blood trigger events that cause blood clots. When aspirin stops those chemicals, it helps slow the formation of the clots. Thatâs important because they can clog the arteries that bring blood to heart muscle and the brain, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
It might reduce your risk of death. A low-dose aspirin might be considered to prevent a first heart attack and stroke in a select group of adults between 40-59 who aren’t at increased risk of bleeding.
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Should You Take An Aspirin A Day For Your Heart
Is it helping your heart or hurting your stomach? We set the record straight
Youve probably heard that taking one baby aspirin every day can significantly reduce your risk of getting a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that regular aspirin consumption cut the risk of coronary heart disease by 28 percent in people whod never had a heart attack or stroke, but were at heightened risk.
You may have also heard that the FDA isnt so sure that aspirin is delivering as advertised. Last year, the organization released a statement, announcing that they had reviewed the available data and does not believe the evidence supports the general use of aspirin for primary prevention of a heart attack or stroke.
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So which is it? Should you be taking an aspirin or not? Is it helping you, or is it just a placebo?
It may depend on whether your blood pump is actually in peril.
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Low dose aspirin reduces cardiovascular events in subjects with known cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease, says Dr. Prediman K. Shah , M.D., the director of the Oppenheimer Atherosclerosis Research Center, as well as a professor of medicine at Cedars Sinai and UCLA.
In other words, if you have heart disease or have already suffered a heart attack or stroke, low-dose aspirin can be cheap artery insurance.
But what if your heart is perfectly healthy? Dr. Shah says you may want to reconsider that aspirin habit.
Take Aspirin At Night For Heart Benefits
May 15, 2002 — Taking aspirin at the right time may be the key to preventing heart attacks, stroke, and even high blood pressure. The common yet potent drug works best at bedtime, a Spanish study shows.
Ramon C. Hermida, PhD, of the University of Vigo, Spain, reported the findings at this week’s annual meeting of the American Society of Hypertension.
“Timed administration of low-dose aspirin could be a valuable approach not only for the prevention of major cardiovascular events, but also for the control of blood pressure in patients with mild-to-moderate ,” Hermida says in a press release.
Low-dose aspirin is known to reduce the risk of heart attack in high-risk patients. It also seems to help lower high blood pressure, but studies looking at this effect yield confusing results. Now there may be an explanation: aspirin only lowers blood pressure when taken at bedtime.
Hermida’s team studied 109 men and women with mild high blood pressure. All of them went on a diet-and-exercise regimen. They were randomly assigned to three groups. One group didn’t take any aspirin. A second group took a low-dose aspirin every morning when they got up. The third group took a low-dose aspirin every night when they went to bed.
Aspirin didn’t affect blood pressure if given in the morning. But when given at night, it had a significant effect: a 7.0 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 4.8 mmHg decrease in diastolic blood pressure .
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Take Aspirin If You Have It
If you’re having heart attack symptoms and have access to aspirin, take a full dose of 325 mg after calling the ambulance, Beachey says. He recommends chewing it instead of swallowing, so it gets into your system faster.
The reason? When you’re having a heart attack, a plaque inside your arteries becomes unstable and ruptures, which forms a blood clot that can close off supply to that artery. Taking aspirin can help break down some of that blood clot.
What Should People Over Age 60 Do If Theyre Confused About Baby Aspirin
If you are confused about whether you are at greater risk for heart attacks and stroke, talk with your doctor. Many patients will still be recommended to continue taking low-dose daily aspirin.
If you are in good health and have no history of cardiovascular disease, you should not start taking a daily low-dose or baby aspirin without consulting with your primary care provider.
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Other Ways To Reduce Your Risk For Heart Disease
Although non-modifiable risk factors such as age and genetics weigh heavily on a persons chances of developing cardiovascular disease, there are measures individuals can take to reduce their risk factors. Bitar encourages his patients to incorporate lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy, plant-based or Mediterranean diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding smoking, improving sleep habits and reducing alcohol use.
Blood pressure control, weight loss and well-controlled diabetes are some of the other primary and, for many patients, secondary preventive measures that can significantly reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease altogether or help you avoid a second cardiovascular event, said Bitar.
Does An Aspirin A Day Keep Heart Disease Away It Depends
New guidelines suggest a low-dose aspirin isnt the answer when it comes to preventing a first-time heart attack or stroke.
Each year, more than 805,000 Americans experience a heart attack according to the American Heart Association, and another 795,000 suffer a stroke based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These statistics, along with the fact that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the nation, have many individuals looking for ways to reduce their risk.
But if youve been taking a daily low-dose aspirin as a way to ward off heart disease or stroke, new guidelines suggest it may be time to reconsider.
Cardiologists like Abbas Bitar, M.D., of the University of Michigan Health Frankel Cardiovascular Center, are raising a red flag based on recommendations by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of national experts in disease prevention. The Task Force recently outlined new recommendations for everyone 60 years of age and older, as well as those between the ages of 40 to 59 who are at moderate to high risk of cardiovascular disease.
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Where Did The Story Come From
This was a conference abstract of a study carried out by researchers from Leiden University Medical Center and Nijmegen University Sanquin Research both in the Netherlands. It was funded by Leiden University Medical Center and the Netherlands Heart Foundation.
The summary was presented this week at a meeting of the American Heart Association. The research has, to the best of our knowledge, not yet been peer-reviewed.
The study was covered widely in the media. Many newspapers tended to overstate the findings and did not mention the study has not yet been published. Though the Daily Mail did include useful comments from independent experts in the UK, while the Daily Telegraph mentioned the risk of side effects from aspirin.
The medias leap that the observed reduction in platelet reactivity would result in reduced risk of heart attack is an assumption that should not be made at the current time.
For decades, millions of Americans have been advised to take low dose aspirin daily to prevent heart attacks and strokes. But new research is raising questions about this common practice.
Its not that aspirin doesnt work to keep the heart healthy. It does. Its just that the dose your doctor wants you to take may need to change in order to be right for you. Doctors recommend aspirin because it helps to prevent clots from forming that can block blood flow to the heart or brain, causing heart attacks and strokes.