Should I Take Aspirin to Prevent a Heart Attack?
Follow the Research
The answer is, there is no one right answer for everyone. Many factors can play into what’s best for you – your age, current health condition, past health history and more.
New research found that the risks of daily aspirin begin to outweigh the benefits starting at age 60. This research released in October 2021 by the United States Preventative Task Force showed the risk of aspirin causing potentially life-threatening bleeding in the brain or gastrointestinal tract increases with age. So this is definitely something for you and your doctor to consider, especially if you have a history of bleeding.
Your Health History
What if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke in the past, or you have heart disease? Does this change what you should do? Yes. If you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, taking low-dose aspirin has been found to be beneficial.
In medicine, randomized controlled trials provide the best information in terms of providing scientific data to guide decision making. Multiple trials have shown two things:
- Aspirin is not beneficial for primary prevention. Primary prevention means preventing a first-time stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular condition. If you don’t have a heart condition, most people would not benefit from taking aspirin daily.
- On the other hand, if you’ve had a heart attack, stroke or heart disease, aspirin is used for secondary prevention. This means to prevent a second heart attack, stroke or other condition. Why? Because once you have these conditions, you are at a higher risk for them to occur again.
To Use or Not Use Aspirin
This can be a complex decision. The best way to decide this is to talk to your doctor to assess your risk level. Each person is slightly different. Some people have higher risks of stroke and heart attacks, while others have higher risks of bleeding.
Your doctor can provide information on the risks and benefits for your specific situation to determine if taking aspirin is right for you.
Dr. Zach Singsank
Zach Singsank is an interventional cardiologist with Bryan Heart.