Can An Aspirin A Day Keep a Heart Attack Away? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on February 17, 2015

Can An Aspirin A Day Keep a Heart Attack Away?

According to the American Heart Association, people with a high risk of a heart attack and heart attack survivors should take a regular low-dose of aspirin, at the direction of their physician.

Ask your cardiologist if you should be
on an aspirin regimen for your heart.

Taking care of your heart is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you live a long, healthy life. That’s because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Even more alarming is the fact that someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds in the U.S., and every 60 seconds someone dies from a heart disease-related event.

So it’s no wonder that along with a litany of lifestyle modifications and possibly medications to address high blood pressure and cholesterol, people turn to any means possible to prevent a life changing heart attack.

One such measure is an aspirin regimen.

According to the American Heart Association, people with a high risk of a heart attack and heart attack survivors should take a regular low-dose of aspirin, at the direction of their physician.

However, this preventative measure is a bit controversial among doctors – the effectiveness of an aspirin regimen may not be all it’s been cracked up to be.

So why are some doctors prescribing it and other aren’t?

Most heart attacks occur when the blood supply to a part of your heart muscle is blocked. This can happen when deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and other substances build up in the lining of an artery – this build-up is referred to as plaque. The plaque build-up can grow large enough to reduce the blood flow through an artery. But it’s not just this build-up that’s harmful. Sometimes this plaque can become fragile and rupture, causing blood clots to form. Blood clots can block blood flow or break off and travel to another part of the body.

If a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that feeds the heart, it causes a heart attack. Similarly, if a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that feeds the brain, it causes a stroke.

The idea behind an aspirin regimen is that aspirin thins the blood and helps prevent blood clots from forming in the first place, thus preventing heart attacks and strokes.

However, there have been some studies published that have found no benefit in an aspirin regimen for those people who have a high risk of heart attack or stroke.

That doesn’t mean that if your doctor has put you on an aspirin regimen that you should stop. You doctor prescribed that regimen to you based on your individual symptoms, risk and medical history.

And, if you’re not currently on an aspirin regimen, don’t just start doing it without first consulting your doctor. That’s because the risks and potential benefits vary for each person.

Whether you’re already doing aspirin therapy or are considering it, here are some questions you should ask your doctor:

  • What is my risk of having a heart attack or stroke?
  • What is my risk of having another one?
  • Can I benefit from taking aspirin? How?
  • What side effects might I experience?
  • How long should I be on an aspirin regimen?
  • Will it interfere with my other medications?

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