Aspirin For Reducing Your Risk Of Heart Attack And Stroke: Know The Facts
Information on using aspirin daily, over-the-counter, with other medicines, as well as its side effects
You can walk into any pharmacy, grocery or convenience store and buy aspirin without a prescription. The Drug Facts label on medication products, will help you choose aspirin for relieving headache, pain, swelling, or fever. The Drug Facts label also gives directions that will help you use the aspirin so that it is safe and effective.
But what about using aspirin for a different use, time period, or in a manner that is not listed on the label? For example, using aspirin to lower the risk of heart attack and clot-related strokes. In these cases, the labeling information is not there to help you with how to choose and how to use the medicine safely. Since you don’t have the labeling directions to help you, you need the medical knowledge of your doctor, nurse practitioner or other health professional.
You can increase the chance of getting the good effects and decrease the chance of getting the bad effects of any medicine by choosing and using it wisely. When it comes to using aspirin to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, choosing and using wisely means: Know the facts and work with your health professional.
How Aspirin Can Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Attack
Barnes says that doctors will typically recommend taking a daily baby aspirin if you had a heart attack in the past or if you have blockages in major arteries, such as the arteries leading to the brain or legs.
Daily aspirin only benefits your cardiovascular health if you’re at risk for a heart attack. Taking daily aspirin can also increase the risk of bleeding and bruising, and may do more harm than good for healthier people.
For example, research has found that for those who had plaque build up in the heart, aspirin was two to four times more likely to prevent a heart attack than cause major bleeding events. But for those without plaque build-up, aspirin was two to four times more likely to lead to a major bleeding event than to prevent a heart attack.
Barnes says that daily aspirin is not necessary for patients with an overall low risk for a heart attack such as people who are under 70, have never smoked, and don’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Still, aspirin can have positive effects for those with cardiovascular disease, or with these risk factors. A 2011 study found that if 90% of those who needed to take daily aspirin actually took it, 45,000 lives would be saved per year. Therefore, it’s important to check in with your doctor to see if a daily aspirin regimen will benefit you.
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.
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Have Sex When Youre Ready
You can resume sexual activity after a heart attack when you are healthy and feel ready for it. You could be ready if you can do mild or moderate activity, like brisk walking, without having angina symptoms. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns. Your doctor can help you know if your heart is healthy enough for sex.
If you take a nitrate, like nitroglycerin, do not take erection-enhancing medicines. Combining a nitrate with one of these medicines can cause a life-threatening drop in blood pressure.
Why Have Adults Been Taking Low
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for about one in three deaths, according to the Preventive Services Task Force. Each year, an estimated 605,000 Americans have a first heart attack and about 610,000 experience a first stroke. So prevention is key. And, for decades, doctors have often advised older adults to take daily baby aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
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What Is The New Guidance About Daily Baby Aspirin
Here are the new guidelines, which are currently in draft form and should be finalized by the end of the year:
- Adults ages 60 and older who have not had a prior heart attack, stroke, stents or heart or artery surgery, or significant atherosclerosis should not start taking daily baby aspirin. Thats because theres no net benefit when considering the associated bleeding risks, according to the prevention experts.
- People ages 40 to 59 who have a greater than 10% risk of having a stroke or heart attack over 10 years may get a small net benefit from taking a daily low-dose or baby aspirin. These people should consult with their doctors to weigh the pros and cons.
- People who have already had a stroke or heart attack and have been advised by their doctors to take a daily baby aspirin should continue with their aspirin regimen. Anyone with questions about their specific circumstances should consult with their doctor prior to stopping aspirin.
Simon emphasizes that the new guidance does not apply to everyone. Initial headlines might have made it seem like everyone should immediately stop taking baby aspirin. Thats not correct, Simon said.
This applies to a very specific patient group, he said.
Are There Other Benefits To Taking Daily Aspirin
Some studies suggest that daily aspirin therapy may prevent certain cancers.
In particular, the 2016 USPSTF recommendations reported that taking aspirin on a daily basis likely reduces risk for colorectal cancer, but only after 5 to 10 years of use.
- are at risk of hemorrhagic stroke
- drink alcohol on a regular basis
- need to undergo routine dental or medical procedures
- are over the age of 70
If you have any of the above risk factors, its critical to talk with your doctor before taking aspirin.
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How Much Aspirin Should I Take
Always talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of aspirin therapy before beginning a regular regimen.
A dose of 81 mg, or a baby aspirin is recommended as the daily dose to prevent future heart events. There are also lower and higher dose adult aspirin varieties available. Check with your doctor first to find out what dose is right for you.
Aspirin And Gender Differences
Well known differences exist in the epidemiology of vascular events in men and women. Men are more prone to stroke and MI, yet women are more likely to die from these events than men.12 Similarly, meta-analysis results suggest that there are also gender differences in the effects of aspirin on CVD, whereby risk of MI appears to be reduced in men and risk of stroke appears to be reduced in women.28,37 Current guidelines for the use of aspirin for CVD prevention take these differences into consideration. Aspirin use in males is primarily intended for the prevention of coronary artery disease, while in females, prevention of stroke is the main target.12 The reason for differences in the effect of aspirin therapy by gender is currently unknown, but evidence suggests that there may be some biological basis for these differences. For example, baseline platelet reactivity is greater in women than in men, with higher residual reactivity following aspirin treatment in women.38 As such, physicians should also be sure to consider gender-specific risks, benefits, and guidelines for aspirin therapy prior to making patient recommendations.
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Guidance Is Changing On Low
Many adults have been advised by their doctors to take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease. But the guidance is changing, as newer research shows the benefits of daily aspirin do not outweigh the risks for some patients. If youre taking aspirin for prevention, you may want to talk with your doctor.
Aspirin helps prevent clots from forming in the blood vessels, which can cause heart attack or stroke. However, the new recommendations are based on research showing the risks of stomach bleeding in older adults outweigh the blood-thinning benefits of daily aspirin.
Fact: Aspirin Is A Drug
If you are at risk for heart attack or stroke your doctor may prescribe aspirin to increase blood flow to the heart and brain. But any drug including aspirin can have harmful side effects, especially when mixed with other products. In fact, the chance of side effects increases with each new product you use.
New products include prescription and other over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements , and sometimes foods and beverages. For instance, people who already use a prescribed medication to thin the blood should not use aspirin unless recommended by a health professional. There are also dietary supplements known to thin the blood. Using aspirin with alcohol or with another product that also contains aspirin, such as a cough-sinus drug, can increase the chance of side effects.
Your health professional will consider your current state of health. Some medical conditions, such as pregnancy, uncontrolled high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, asthma, peptic ulcers, liver and kidney disease, could make aspirin a bad choice for you.
Make sure that all your health professionals are aware that you are using aspirin to reduce your risk of heart attack and clot-related strokes.
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Remind Me What Are The Different Kinds Of Stroke
Aspirin In Secondary Prevention
Patients who suffer from one or more CVD events, such as myocardial infarction or ischemic stroke, are at very high risk for another CVD event. While rescue procedures, such as percutaneous coronary intervention , are aimed at stabilizing acute events, aspirin therapy may actually serve to prevent subsequent CVD events. The role of aspirin in reducing CVD mortality and repeat events after acute MI was first demonstrated in the second International Study of Infarct Survival trial.7 In this study, 17,187 patients from 417 hospitals were enrolled within 24 hours after onset of suspected acute MI and randomized to receive: a 1-hour intravenous infusion of 1.5 MU of streptokinase one month of 160 mg/day enteric-coated aspirin both treatments or neither. Aspirin use resulted in a significant reduction in non-fatal reinfarction, stroke, 5-week vascular mortality, and all-cause mortality.7 Although other, smaller trials showed similar benefits for patients with a history of previous MI, the ISIS-2 trial was the first to provide evidence of a direct effect of aspirin on acute MI, demonstrating that one month of low-dose aspirin started immediately after MI in 1000 patients would prevent 25 deaths and 10 to 15 nonfatal infarcts and strokes. Additional mortality benefits were observed with longer duration of aspirin therapy.7
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Should You Take Aspirin For Your Heart
The risks might be greater than the benefits. But talk to your doctor before you make a change.
Many people take a low-dose aspirin every day to protect their heart. But new guidelines may be changing this common practice.
The US Preventive Service Task Force makes recommendations to doctors for patient care. Recently it warned that aspirin may have more health risks than benefits for some people.
Aspirin does help the heart by thinning the blood and preventing clots from developing. These clots can block the flow of blood to the heart and cause a heart attack. Or they can flow to the brain and cause a stroke.
But aspirin also increases the risk for harmful bleeding in the body. It can cause bleeding in the stomach and intestines and, in the brain, it can cause a type of stroke .
Research bears this out. A 2018 study of over 15,000 people with diabetes in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that those who took a 100mg aspirin every day had a 12% drop in heart attacks and strokes compared to those who didnt take aspirin. But they also had a 29% jump in bleeding incidents. Another study of over 19,000 healthy people age 70 and older found that aspirin had no heart benefits and a higher bleeding risk.
There is also a lot that you can do to keep your heart healthy:
These measures can go a long way to protect you from serious heart problemswhether or not your doctor prescribes a daily aspirin!
Fact: Once Your Doctor Decides That Daily Use Of Aspirin Is For You Safe Use Depends On Following Your Doctor’s Directions
There are no directions on the label for using aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack or clot-related stroke. You may rely on your health professional to provide the correct information on dose and directions for use. Using aspirin correctly gives you the best chance of getting the greatest benefits with the fewest unwanted side effects. Discuss with your health professional the different forms of aspirin products that might be best suited for you.
Aspirin has been shown to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have cardiovascular disease or who have already had a heart attack or stroke, but not all over-the-counter pain and fever reducers do that. Even though the directions on the aspirin label do not apply to this use of aspirin, you still need to read the label to confirm that the product you buy and use contains aspirin at the correct dose. Check the Drug Facts label for “active ingredients: aspirin” or “acetylsalicylic acid” at the dose that your health professional has prescribed.
Remember, if you are using aspirin everyday for weeks, months or years to prevent a heart attack, stroke, or for any use not listed on the label without the guidance from your health professional you could be doing your body more harm than good.
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Aspirin For Heart Attack First Aid
The reason you need aspirin is the same reason you should call 911 without delay: A heart attack is a dynamic event, and early intervention can limit the damage. The paramedics can give you oxygen and medication, and they’ll monitor your blood pressure and heart rhythm to forestall complications as they speed you to the ER. In the hospital, doctors will take EKGs and blood tests to see if you are having a heart attack if so, they will usually try to open the blocked artery with an angioplasty and stent or, if that’s not available, with a clot-busting drug.
It’s modern cardiology at its best, and it has improved considerably the outlook for heart attack victims. But how can a humble aspirin tablet add to high-tech medicine, and why is speed so important?
Most heart attacks develop when a cholesterol-laden plaque in a coronary artery ruptures. Relatively small plaques, which produce only partial blockages, are the ones most likely to rupture. When they do, they attract platelets to their surface. Platelets are the tiny blood cells that trigger blood clotting. A clot, or thrombus, builds up on the ruptured plaque. As the clot grows, it blocks the artery. If the blockage is complete, it deprives a portion of the heart muscle of oxygen. As a result, muscle cells die and it’s a heart attack.
Aspirin As A Primary Prevention Measure
The suggested changes say that no one over the age of 60 should take aspirin as primary prevention against cardiovascular disease. Primary prevention is a term for avoiding a first heart attack, ischemic stroke or other type of cardiovascular issue. Low-dose aspirin might be considered for individuals age 40 to 59 who are at moderate risk of developing cardiovascular disease and do not have an increased risk of bleeding.
Bitar says his moderate- to high-risk patients are evaluated using the Framingham scoring system, which helps to predict a persons risk of heart attack and stroke. The system measures factors like HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, blood pressure, age, sex and smoking habits, he said.
For years, aspirin was considered a safe way to prevent heart disease because it served as an over-the-counter medication that thins the blood, thus reducing the risk of clot formation a precursor of heart attack and stroke. But experts now warn about the risk of internal bleeding from consuming aspirin.
Taking aspirin on a daily basis irritates the lining of the stomach and bowels, which can lead to bleeding in the digestive system, said Bitar. For those who have not experienced a cardiovascular event, the benefits of a daily aspirin do not outweigh the risk of bleeding, he says.
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