Is Aspirin Therapy Right for You?

Aspirin Therapy

Patrick McBride, MD, UW Health preventive cardiologist discusses low-dose aspirin therapy. Please keep in mind the information on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content contained on this site is for general information purposes only. If you have a specific question about your care, please contact your physician.

 

A low-dose aspirin every day is an easy, proven way to prevent heart disease in at-risk people. But it is important to know that it is not for everyone - you should ask your health care provider if it is beneficial or safe for you!

 

If you use aspirin, it is important that you know what the right dose is for you for prevention. We are learning that aspirin is often underused by patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), who could be protected by regular use and is overused by people at low risk for CVD, who then may be at risk for intestinal bleeding.

 

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Low doses of aspirin protect the cardiovascular system by keeping platelets, cells that allow blood to clot, from clumping together and forming dangerous clots that could block blood flow to the heart or brain. On the flip side, the anti-clotting, blood-thinning qualities of aspirin can lead to bleeding, especially in the intestines and stomach.

 

Who Should Take Aspirin

 

Individuals need to discuss with their physician whether low-dose aspirin therapy is right for them. However, general guidelines include:

 

  • People who have had a heart attack or stroke
  • People who have coronary artery disease
  • Men over 55 years or women over 65 years of age with risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking, who have been cleared by their health care provider

Aspirin may also be used by patients who:

  • Had bypass surgery or angioplasty (stent)
  • Had a transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Have peripheral arterial disease
  • Have atrial fibrillation
  • Have peripheral arterial disease

If you have heart disease or are at risk, talk directly with your provider about whether or not you should take aspirin. We are also learning that older adults and women are more likely to follow their prescribed regimen than younger adults or men. If it is prescribed to you, or a loved one, make sure to follow the proper dose and frequency to get the full benefit and to avoid the risk of intestinal bleeding.