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Heart Disease Health Center

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Heart Disease and Aspirin Therapy

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What Are the Risks and Benefits of Aspirin Therapy?

Risks of Aspirin Therapy

  • Aspirin can increase the risk of stomachulcers and abdominal bleeding.
  • During a stroke, aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding into the brain.

Benefits of Aspirin Therapy

  • Aspirin can significantly reduce heart damage during a heart attack and can prevent the occurrence of future heart problems.
  • Aspirin can reduce the risk of stroke.

How Much Aspirin Should I Take?

Always speak to your doctor about the benefits and risks of aspirin therapy before beginning a regular regimen.

Recent research indicates an appropriate dose of aspirin is between 80 milligrams and 160 milligrams per day. This is actually half of the standard 325-milligram aspirin commonly prescribed. Many studies show the lower dose works just as well as the higher dose, while reducing the risk of internal bleeding. A baby aspirin contains 81 milligrams. There are similarly lower-dose adult aspirin varieties available. But check with your doctor first to find out what dose is right for you.

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.

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