Is a Daily Asprin Regimen Appropriate for Everyone?

We asked Dr. Srinivas Murali, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiology at Allegheny General Hospital, to answer one of your health questions.

Q: Is a daily asprin regimen appropriate for everyone?

A: A daily aspirin is recommended for those who have suffered a heart attack or stroke, or those who are considered to be at a high risk for either. Aspirin therapy reduces the clumping action of platelets, thereby promoting blood flow to the heart and brain, which could prevent a heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin can affect men and women differently. Studies have shown that in adult men of all ages, aspirin reduces risk of heart disease and prevents a first and second heart attack. In women younger than 65 years, aspirin reduces heart disease risk, prevents a first stroke and also prevents a second heart attack. For women over 65 years of age, aspirin reduces heart disease risk, prevents a first stroke and prevents first and second heart attack.

The risk of bleeding from aspirin therapy is similar in men and women. Avoid taking aspirin if you have a known bleeding disorder, allergy to aspirin or inflammation or ulcer in your stomach. Enteric-coated aspirin, which is designed to pass through the stomach and not disintegrate until it reaches the intestines, may be appropriate for some people who have a history of stomach ulcers.

There is no uniform dose of aspirin you should take to get the benefits of daily aspirin therapy. Discuss the appropriate dose for you with your doctor.

Whether you take aspirin or not, it is very important that you attend to other risk factors for heart attack and stroke, which include smoking tobacco, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, physical inactivity and stress.

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