Should You Take Daily Low-Dose Aspirin?Posted by Medicare Made Clear
Low-dose aspirin therapy may have benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Yet many people take an aspirin every day, like a vitamin pill. Should you?
It’s long been known that aspirin therapy helps reduce the risk of a second heart attack. Doctors often recommend it for people who have had a heart attack or stroke. Daily low-dose aspirin may also be recommended for people who have had a stent placed in a coronary artery, have had coronary bypass surgery or have chest pain due to coronary artery disease (angina).
This type of therapy is called “secondary prevention.” It’s used when illness is already diagnosed. The goal is to slow or stop the progress of disease, if possible.
The benefits of aspirin therapy may extend its use into “primary prevention.” This means taking daily low-dose aspirin to prevent a first heart attack. Your doctor may recommend this if you are at risk for heart disease. Risk factors include a family history of heart disease, having high blood pressure, being overweight, not exercising, smoking, having high cholesterol or having diabetes.
But aspirin therapy has its drawbacks. One of the reasons aspirin could help prevent a heart attack is its anti-clotting action – aspirin may keep blood clots from forming in arteries leading to the heart. This same anti-clotting action may cause excessive bleeding or bruising. It may also irritate the stomach and could even lead to ulcers or internal bleeding.
Talk to your doctor before starting daily aspirin therapy. Also, if you’ve been taking daily aspirin therapy as secondary prevention and want to stop, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. Suddenly stopping daily aspirin therapy can have a rebound effect that may increase your risk of heart attack.
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