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Before Your Next Aspirin

By on March 11, 2014
Image: aspirin

Aspirin is often thought of as a harmless over-the-counter (OTC) drug that’s been relied on for years to treat pain and fever. Now you’re hearing that it can also lower your risk of a heart attack and some kinds of strokes. Aspirin may seem like a quick-and-easy way to decrease these risks, but it’s not as simple as you think.

What Studies Show

Since aspirin was discovered more than a century ago, it has played a major role in treating headaches, fevers, and minor aches and pains for millions of people. Now studies show that because aspirin thins the blood, it can also help to lower the chances of a heart attack or a stroke caused by a blood clot in the brain. But research has found it works only in certain people, specifically those who had a previous heart attack or stroke, or have disease of the blood vessels in the heart. It does not seem to work in people with healthier hearts and blood vessels.

Not all over-the-counter pain relievers contain aspirin. If your health care provider prescribes daily aspirin to lower the risk of a heart attack and clot-related stroke, read the labels carefully to make sure you have the right product. Some drugs combine aspirin with other pain relievers or other ingredients and should not be used for long-term aspirin therapy. If you have questions talk to a health professional.

Not Without Risks

Aspirin has been known to help people living with some diseases of the heart and blood vessels. It can help prevent a heart attack or clot-related stroke by interfering with how the blood clots. But the same properties that make aspirin work as a blood thinner to stop it from clotting may also cause unwanted side effects, including bleeding into the brain or stomach.

Before you use aspirin to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, talk to a health professional.  It could save your life.

FDA
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Phone: 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332)

 

Article content provided by the Federal Drug Administration.

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