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Heart Disease Health Center

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Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke - Topic Overview

Be careful taking pain relievers

Although nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, relieve pain and inflammation much like aspirin does, they do not affect blood clotting in the same way that aspirin does. Do not substitute NSAIDs for aspirin. NSAIDs may increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Take NSAIDs safely. If you need both aspirin and an NSAID pain reliever every day, talk to your doctor first. Ask your doctor what pain reliever you should take. You may be able to use another type of pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, to treat your pain.

If you take an NSAID every day, your doctor may recommend that you take the NSAID and aspirin pills at different times. If you take these pills at the same time, aspirin might not work as well to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Do not take the NSAID pill during either the 8 hours before or the 30 minutes after you take aspirin. Here's an example: Take your aspirin. Wait 30 minutes. Then take your NSAID.

If you take an NSAID once in a while, it does not seem to cause problems with aspirin.

More information

For more safety tips, see:

actionset.gif Blood Thinners Other Than Warfarin: Taking Them Safely

How do you take aspirin?

Your doctor will recommend a dose of aspirin and how often to take it. Most people take aspirin every day to help prevent a heart attack or a stroke, but others might take aspirin every other day. Be sure you know what dose of aspirin to take and how often to take it.

Low-dose aspirin (81 mg) is the most common dose used to prevent a heart attack or a stroke. But the dose for daily aspirin can range from 81 mg to 325 mg. One low-dose aspirin contains 81 mg. One adult-strength aspirin contains about 325 mg.

For aspirin therapy, do not take medicines that combine aspirin with other ingredients such as caffeine and sodium.

Low-dose aspirin seems to be as effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes as higher doses.

Take aspirin with food if it bothers your stomach.

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