Should You Take Aspirin Daily for Heart Health?
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If you’re middle-aged or older, your doctor may have recommended taking a daily low-dose aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Thanks to a recent report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, that advice is changing.
The report said there is minimal to no benefit in taking daily aspirin to prevent a stroke or heart attack if you don’t have cardiovascular disease. It might even increase your risk of harmful bleeding.
However, if your doctor determines that you are more than 20% likely to develop heart disease, you could benefit from that daily dose.
We have begun to learn, based on research from some very large studies, that in certain people, in most cases aspirin isn’t good to prevent the first heart attack. There are some exceptions.– Dr. Carl Orringer
Here’s what our expert says about the benefits of aspirin.
“Aspirin has been used for years to try to prevent the first heart attack. We have begun to learn, based on research from some very large studies, that in certain people, in most cases aspirin isn’t good to prevent the first heart attack, “says Carl E. Orringer, M.D., FACC, the director of the UHealth Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine Program and Lipid Clinic. “There are some exceptions; particularly in those who have very high coronary calcium scores.”
“In the absence of that, in a person who hasn’t had a heart attack, stroke or blockages in the arteries of the legs, in most cases we are not recommending aspirin for heart disease prevention. These recommendations highlight the limited benefit expected from aspirin in most people who have never had a heart attack.”
Dr. Orringer and his colleagues stay up to date on the latest research evidence, like this report issued by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, so that they can provide the best possible medical care.
For that reason, Dr. Orringer advises certain patients to take aspirin daily.
“Aspirin is recommended for people who have had a heart attack or stroke, for people who have had a stent or bypass surgery, and for people who have blocked arteries in the legs. In those people, 81 milligrams of aspirin in one tablet a day is terrifically beneficial, with a very low likelihood of gastrointestinal side effects but great benefit in terms of reducing cardiovascular risk.”
Although the risk of gastrointestinal problems is minimal, if you’re concerned, ask your doctor if they recommend taking an enteric-coated aspirin to protect your digestive system further.
To schedule an appointment with a cardiovascular expert, call 305-243-5554.
Written by Nancy Moreland, contributor for UHealth’s news site. Article medically reviewed by Dr. Carl Orringer.