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What You Need to Know if You Take Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attack or Stroke

Once you start, don't stop

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Man reading label on bottle of tablets
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Millions of older adults take a daily dose of aspirin on the advice of their doctors, to reduce the risk or recurrence of heart attack and stroke. In fact, the American Stroke Association reports that aspirin is the most commonly prescribed medication to prevent the recurrence of heart attack or stroke.

A study shows that older adults who take aspirin daily—and then stop taking it—increase their risk for the health issues they were trying to avoid: stroke and heart attack.

Study: Stopping Aspirin Can Triple the Risk
The American Stroke Association reports that the study of stoke and heart attack survivors found that people who stopped taking daily aspirin had three times the risk of having a stroke within a month, compared to people who continued to take aspirin. According to a report on the study, stopping aspirin eliminates its protective benefits and “may also elevate risk beyond original levels by making platelets more likely to form clots. Earlier studies have similarly suggested a rebound in cardiovascular risk after stopping cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.”

About one-third of the study subjects stopped taking aspirin on their own, and approximately two-thirds stopped on doctors’ orders because of upcoming surgery or minor bleeding.

Interested in Aspirin Therapy?
Whether you are currently taking aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke, or you are considering taking it, follow these important guidelines:

  • Before you start taking aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke, check with your doctor to determine whether it’s safe for you, and to get the appropriate dosage.
  • If you are already taking aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention, check with your doctor before you stop taking aspirin for any reason
  • If you are planning to have surgery or a dental procedure, check the risks of discontinuing aspirin, even for a short time. The American Stroke Association reports that many diagnostic or surgical procedures can be safely performed while patients continue to take low doses of aspirin.
  • If you experience any problems while taking aspirin, including intestinal upset or bleeding, see your doctor immediately.

For more information, read the report from the American Stroke Association.

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