Daily Aspirin Therapy: Effective or an Unnecessary Risk?

According to recent research by the Mayo Clinic, both risks and benefits may exist for individuals considering aspirin therapy for heart attack and stroke prevention.  Every case must be evaluated individually and discussed with your doctor. 

Issues to consider before daily aspirin therapy include the following risk factors:

  • "Smoking tobacco;
  • High blood pressure — a systolic pressure of 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher;
  • Total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL (6.22 mmol/L) or higher;
  • Low-density lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol level of 130 mg/dL (3.68 mmol/L) or higher;
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Having more than two alcoholic drinks a day for men, one drink a day for women
  • Family history of a stroke or heart attack"

Some conditions may prevent daily aspirin therapy:

  • "A bleeding or clotting disorder (bleeding easily)
  • Asthma
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Heart failure
  • Other medications or supplements"

Daily aspirin therapy may also have some serious side effects:

  • "Hemorrhagic stroke. While daily aspirin can help prevent a clot-related stroke, it may increase your risk of a bleeding stroke (hemorrhagic stroke).
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding. Daily aspirin use increases your risk of developing a stomach ulcer. And, if you have a bleeding ulcer, taking aspirin will cause it to bleed more, perhaps to a life-threatening extent.
  • Allergic reaction. If youre allergic to aspirin, taking any amount of aspirin can trigger a serious allergic reaction.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss. Too much aspirin (overdosing) can cause tinnitus and eventual hearing loss in some people.
  • Excessive bleeding during surgery or dental procedures."

The Food and Drug Administration also warns that regularly taking aspirin means that individuals should limit the amount of alcohol they drink because of its additional blood-thinning effects and potential to upset your stomach. No more than one drink a day if youre a woman or two drinks a day if youre a man. "Aspirin and all other over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers for adults will soon carry a warning to people who drink three or more alcoholic beverages a day: Talk with your doctor before using these drugs. Heavy drinkers may have an increased risk of liver damage and stomach bleeding from these medicines, which contain aspirin, other salicylates, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or ketoprofen."

According to the FDA Consumer Magazine, "most health professionals agree that long-term aspirin use to prevent a heart attack or stroke in healthy people is unnecessary. If you are using aspirin to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke and you havent talked with a health professional about it, you may be putting your health at risk."



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