Regular_strength_enteric_coated_aspirin_tabletsStudies have shown that aspirin, the age old remedy for pain and fever, also thins the blood. Because of this property, it can also help to lower the chances of a heart attack or a stroke caused by a blood clot in the brain. And, although research has found that it only works in certain people (specifically, those with a history of heart attack or stroke) many Americans are inappropriately taking daily, low doses of aspirin as a preventative measure. In fact, researchers have found that about 12 percent of the of nearly 69,000 U.S. adults taking aspirin on a long-term basis should not have received the prescription in the first place. Dr. Ravi Hira, cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston as well as the study’s head researcher, said that the group’s odds of suffering a heart attack or stroke were not high enough (6 percent or higher within 10 years) to outweigh the risks of daily aspirin use.

So, while aspirin may seem like a quick-and-easy way to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke, it’s not quite as simple as you might think.

Risks of Daily Aspirin Use If you are healthy and have never suffered a heart attack or stroke, using aspirin to prevent these events is unnecessary and, worse, may put your health at risk for the following reasons:

  • The same properties that make aspirin work as a blood thinner may also cause unwanted side effects such as bleeding into the brain or stomach.
  • Aspirin can mix badly with prescription medicines as well as some over-the-counter drugs.
  • Too much aspirin can increase bleeding during medical or dental procedures.
  • You could develop aspirin allergies or intolerance.

These side effects, while not common, can be life-threatening. People already using a blood thinning medication (such as warfarin, dabigatran or rivaroxaban) should always consult with a health professional before using aspirin, even occasionally. And, if your health care provider does prescribe aspirin on a long-term basis, read labels carefully to make sure you have the right product. Some drugs combine aspirin with other pain relievers or ingredients that should not be used as part of long-term aspirin therapy.

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