Aspirin For Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Aspirin is a salicylate, used to treat pain, and reduce fever or inflammation. Aspirin is mainly used for reducing the morbidity and mortality in secondary prophylaxis, or in patients who have suffered from heart attack or stroke.

Common Facts About Aspirin

Here are some key points about aspirin:

  • It was the first NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to be discovered.
  • It is one of the most widely used medications in the world.
  • Aspirin interacts with various drugs, including warfarin and methotrexate.
  • Approximately 35,000 metric tons of aspirin is consumed per year.

Uses of Aspirin

Various therapeutic uses of aspirin are:

  • To treat fever.
  • To reduce pain and swelling in conditions such as arthritis, toothaches, muscle aches, headaches, and common cold.
  • To treat pericarditis, coronary artery disease, and myocardial infarction.
  • To prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

If you have recently undergone any clogged arteries surgery such as bypass surgery, carotid endarterectomy, coronary stent – your doctor may prescribe a low dose of aspirin to prevent blood clots.

Should You Take Aspirin Daily?

If you want to know whether you can take aspirin or not, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may suggest daily aspirin therapy if:

  • You’ve already suffered from a heart attack or stroke before.
  • You haven’t suffered from heart attack, but you have had coronary bypass surgery, or you have chest pain due to coronary artery disease (angina).
  • You’ve never had a heart attack, but you’re at a high risk of having one.
  • You have diabetes and at least one other heart disease risk factor — such as smoking or high blood pressure.
  • You’re a man older than 50 or a woman older than 60.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends daily aspirin therapy if:

  • Your age is between 50 to 59 years. Do not have an increased risk of bleeding. You have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke of 10% or greater over the next 10 years.
  • Your age is between 60 to 69 years. Do not have an increased risk of bleeding. You have a high risk of heart attack or stroke of 10% or greater over the next 10 years.

Best Dose of Aspirin to Take

A low dose of aspirin 75 mg is effective for fever, pain, and swelling. If you’ve had a heart attack or had a heart stent placed, your doctor might prescribe a daily dose of aspirin 81 mg to 325 mg. Make sure to take aspirin and any other blood-thinning medications exactly as recommended by your doctor to avoid any side effects.

Side Effects of Aspirin

The various side effects that you might experience are

  • Black, bloody, or tarry stools;
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain;
  • Coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
  • Fever lasting longer than 3 days;
  • Pain lasting longer than 10 days;
  • Hearing problem such as ringing in your ears;
  • Swelling.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Heartburn, Upset stomach;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Headache.

If in case you experience any of the above side effects, stop using this medication and consult your doctor immediately.

When Doctors’ Recommend Aspirin?

Your doctor might recommend a daily dose of aspirin if you’ve had a heart attack, unless you have a serious allergy or history of bleeding. However, you must not start taking aspirin on your own as it might lead to various side effects.

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