An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but does the same go for aspirin? Most people think of aspirin as a painkiller, which it is. But since it helps reduce inflammation in the body, it’s also good for cardiovascular health. This is why taking an aspirin a day can potentially reduce your risk for a heart attack. But it doesn’t come without its own risks. So how do you know if a daily aspirin regimen is right for you? Talk with your doctor.
You should only begin taking daily aspirin if your doctor prescribes it. Here are some reasons why your doctor may or may not recommend that for you.
You might benefit from a daily aspirin if…you have a higher risk for heart attacks.
Here’s why: The anti-inflammatory property of aspirin helps slow the clotting of blood platelets that can cause heart attacks or strokes. That’s why people who have already had a heart attack or stroke are often put on a daily aspirin regimen to avoid experiencing another one. It can also be used if you’re at a higher risk—even if you haven’t had a heart attack or stroke in the past. Some of these risk factors include high blood pressure, a family history of heart attacks, diabetes, obesity and smoking.
You might benefit from a daily aspirin if…you’re in your 50s or 60s.
Here’s why: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a daily aspirin if you’re in your 50s or 60s and have an increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack (as long as you don’t have an increased bleeding risk—more on that below). Findings are still inconclusive about the benefits of a daily aspirin for those younger than 50 or older than 70. It’s important you consult with your doctor before starting a daily aspirin regimen. Your doctor might prescribe anywhere from an 81 mg dose (the amount in an adult low-dose aspirin) to a 325 mg dose (a regular strength tablet).
A daily aspirin might not be right for you if…you take blood thinners.
Here’s why: Aspirin is still a medication, which means there are some risks and side effects. Because of its ability to interfere with blood’s clotting mechanisms, anyone on blood thinners—also known as anticoagulants—or with increased bleeding risk should not take aspirin regularly.
A daily aspirin might not be right for you if…you have certain other health issues.
Here’s why: Aspirin may interfere with other medication or health conditions. Patients with an aspirin allergy or with gastrointestinal bleeding should avoid daily doses of aspirin. People who have liver or kidney disease, who have three or more alcoholic drinks daily or who have uncontrolled high blood pressure should also avoid daily aspirin use.
Talk with your doctor about whether daily aspirin is for you. Understanding your health and being a proactive participant ensures your care is safe and best suited for your individual needs. For more information on prescription drug safety, check out these helpful blog posts:
- Five Questions to Always Ask Your Pharmacist
- Why It’s So Important to Take Medications Properly
- Do You Know the Best Way to Store Medication?
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