For years, a daily dose of baby aspirin was considered an easy way to prevent a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event. However, a new set of guidelines to help people stay heart-healthy is advising against preventative daily aspirin use.
What are the new recommendations?
New studies revealed the possible side effects of aspirin do not outweigh the cardiovascular benefits in low-risk, healthy people without prior history of heart or stroke disease. Now, the recommendation is that individuals without prior history should not take baby aspirin daily for prevention of atherosclerotic diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and peripheral arterial diseases.
If I’ve had a heart attack, do these new recommendations apply to me?
No – these new guidelines do not apply to people who are considered high risk or have already had a stroke, heart stents or heart attacks. People with previous cardiovascular disease should continue to take baby aspirin daily, or as recommended by their health care provider.
When was the last time you had your heart health checked? Make an appointment online with an Ochsner cardiologist today!
How does baby aspirin help prevent heart attacks and strokes?
Most heart attacks and strokes occur when the blood supply to a part of your heart muscle or brain is blocked by the buildup of fatty plaques. This process of plaque buildup is called atherosclerosis. Build-up of unsteady plaques can break off and form blood clots.
These blood clots can completely stop blood flow and oxygen to parts of our body that need it most:
- If a blood clot blocks a blood vessel feeding the heart, it causes a heart attack.
- If a blood clot blocks a blood vessel feeding the brain, it causes a stroke.
Baby aspirin is well established and safe in preventing a second or recurrent heart attack or stroke. Aspirin thins the blood, which helps prevent blood clots from forming. The problem is that we can’t thin our blood only in our heart and brain. Taking aspirin thins our blood everywhere – including areas we don’t want it to – and can result in bleeding stomach ulcers and cuts from injuries or falls that can bleed excessively.
What should I do if I’m currently taking low-dose aspirin daily?
It is important to talk to your doctor or a cardiologist about these new guidelines or any new changes in medication you want to make.
And remember – aspirin is just one way your doctor may recommend you keep your heart healthy. You can also: