(This sheet is summary of links to the above website as of July 2004)
Aspirin is a drug which can help
fight heart disease and stroke, along with its long-known
benefits of relieving pain and fever. Here are some important
factors to better understand its value to your health.
aspirin fight heart disease and stroke?
Aspirin fights harmful blood clots.
Heart attacks occur when a clot suddenly blocks part of the
heart's own blood supply. In most strokes, a clot blocks part of
the brain's blood supply.
The clots occur because of
atherosclerosis, a disease which clogs the inside of arteries.
Aspirin makes it harder for these clots to form. Also, after
bypass graft surgery and angioplasty (where a narrowed heart
artery is opened up from inside the artery), aspirin reduces the
chance of vessels re-clogging.
everyone use aspirin for these purposes?
No! Please read on.
likely to benefit from aspirin?
Nearly all people can benefit if
are in the process of having a
have had an attack and want to
have angina (chest pain from
poor blood supply to the heart)
have had bypass graft surgery
for diseased heart arteries
have had angioplasty
Others who can benefit are those who:
have had a stroke and want to
have had a temporary
'mini-stroke' (TIA : transient ischaemic attack) and want
to prevent a full stroke
have a disturbed heart rhythm
known as atrial fibrillation
When used for these purposes aspirin
is usually taken long term and in low doses.
aspirin for other people?
It is still not proven that aspirin prevents
heart disease, especially in people at low risk of heart disease
Those who may benefit are men
aged over 40 who have not had a heart attack or stroke but who
are at high risk because they:
have other blood vessel problems
cannot stop smoking
have high blood cholesterol or
high blood pressure
have a bad family history of
heart and blood vessel disease
But no-one should use aspirin for
prevention of heart and blood vessel disease unless their doctor
clearly recommends they do so.
have a doctor's recommendation before going on aspirin long term?
Yes. Aspirin is generally very safe.
But like all drugs it can have side effects and in a small
minority of people it might be dangerous. You need a doctor to
weigh up the benefits and risks. People who may not be able to
take aspirin are those who:
have had problems with it before
are allergic to it
have a stomach or duodenal ulcer
have bleeding from the gut
have a general tendency to bleed
See 'side effects' below.
No. All people taking aspirin for
heart or blood vessel reasons should also:
enjoy healthy eating
be smoke free
maintain healthy blood pressure,
blood cholesterol and body weight
be physically active of a level
appropriate to their condition
Many of these people may be taking
other drugs as well to help control their problems and reduce
What are the
Some people on aspirin can experience
heartburn, stomach pain, minor bleeding from the stomach and
worsening of duodenal or stomach ulcers. In such cases special
aspirin preparations may help. There is also a very slight
risk of bleeding from the gut or a stroke from bleeding in the
Please note, these side effects and
risks are very low with the low doses used. In patients with
heart or blood vessel disease, the potential benefit of reducing
the risk of a clotting-type stroke usually far outweighs
the risk of having a bleeding stroke.
The recommended daily dose is 75-150
mg ( a standard aspirin tablet is 300-325 mg). Higher doses give
no more benefits but they do have more side effects.
When doctors or ambulance staff
suspect someone is having a heart attack, they will advise a
higher dose of half to one 325 mg tablet taken straight away,
preferably the type that can be dissolved in water.
don't start aspirin use unless
your doctor advises it
aspirin is not a cure-all for
heart or blood vessel disease
follow a healthy lifestyle whether or not you're taking medication