Aspirin Can Help Prevent Heart Attacks, Stroke -- But It's Not for Everyone
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However, the study may expand the use of aspirin by one cardiologist. "We give aspirin to everyone with coronary disease, regardless of blood pressure," says Steven L. Almany, MD, FACC, medical director of cardiology at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. "I don't usually put people on aspirin unless they're over 55 or have [heart disease]. That won't change," he says. "Now, if someone younger -- under age 50, says they want to take aspirin, I might say yes. Before, I would have said no." Almany was not involved in the study.
Linden says studies have been designed to look at heart disease in women, and further research is planned. Still, she says, "anybody who has evidence of coronary heart disease or stroke should be taking aspirin, unless they have a bleeding problem or their doctor has advised against it.
"Aspirin is a fantastic drug to cut the risk of heart disease," Linden adds. "However, if people do not have evidence of heart disease or a family history of it, this research does not suggest they take aspirin to help them." Because many people have high blood pressure and don't know it, she stresses the importance of being carefully monitored by your physician.
"There are ways to protect yourself against coronary heart disease if you haven't got it," Linden says. "But for many people, particularly those with heart disease, aspirin is not the only answer."
"Existing heart patients should continue to take aspirin as prescribed by their doctors," Fawcett says. "For them, the benefits are well-established."
For more information from WebMD, visit our Diseases and Conditions Heart Disease page.