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Heart Disease and Aspirin Therapy


How Should I Take Aspirin?

It's helpful to follow these guidelines when taking aspirin:

  • Aspirin should not be taken on an empty stomach. Take aspirin with a full glass of water with meals or after meals to prevent stomach upset.
  • Do not break, crush, or chew extended-release tablets or capsules -- swallow them whole. Chewable aspirin tablets may be chewed, crushed, or dissolved in a liquid.
  • Before this medication is prescribed, tell your doctor if you are allergic to aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
  • Aspirin should never be taken in place of other medications or treatments recommended by your doctor.
  • Taking aspirin with alcohol increases the chance of stomach bleeding.

While taking aspirin, ask your doctor what other medicines you may take for pain relief or minor colds. Read the labels of all pain relievers and cold products to make sure they are aspirin-free. Other drugs containing aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may cause bleeding problems when taken in combination with your regular aspirin therapy.

Before any surgery, dental procedure, or emergency treatment, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking aspirin. You might need to stop taking this medicine for five to seven days before dental work or surgery. However, do not stop taking this medicine without first consulting with your doctor.


Are There Any Side Effects of Aspirin?

Yes. Some common side effects of aspirin include nausea, upset stomach, nervousness, and trouble sleeping. Call your doctor if any of these symptoms become severe or do not go away.

If you have any of the following side effects of aspirin, contact your doctor right away:

  • Severe stomach pain or heartburn
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Any signs of unusual bleeding, such as blood in the urine or stool, nosebleeds, any unusual bruising, heavy bleeding from cuts, black tarry stools, coughing up blood, unusually heavy menstrual bleeding or unexpected vaginal bleeding, vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Facial swelling (usually indicates an allergy)
  • Asthma attack (also indicates an allergy)
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion


Who Should Not Take Aspirin?

  • Children younger than age 18 who are recovering from a viral infection such as the flu or chicken pox should not take aspirin.
  • Pregnant women (unless otherwise directed by your doctor).
  • People who are about to undergo surgery
  • Heavy drinkers
  • People with ulcers or any bleeding problem
  • People taking regular doses of other pain medications, such as Motrin (unless otherwise directed by your doctor)
  • People who are allergic to aspirin



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC on February 19, 2014
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