North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

June 11, 2010

Should you take aspirin every day?

By Jonathan Thigpen
The North Jefferson News

NORTH JEFFERSON COUNTY — You’ve probably heard of people taking aspirin every day for their heart.  You may think that aspirin is only used to treat pains and aches; however, aspirin affects the body in other ways as well. Aspirin is often used to protect the heart and body from different types of disease.  Aspirin slows the blood’s clotting action by reducing the clumping of platelets. Platelets are cells that clump together and help to form blood clots. Aspirin keeps platelets from clumping together, thus helping to prevent or reduce blood clots.

Preventing and reducing blood clots is how aspirin protects your body from getting a stroke or a heart attack.

Taking low-dose aspirin (81 mg) every day may be used:

• After a heart attack, to prevent another one

• By people who have coronary artery disease

• By people with stable or unstable angina

• After bypass surgery or angioplasty

• By people who have had a stroke

• After surgery to prevent a stroke

• By healthy men over age 45 and healthy women over age 55 when the benefits of aspirin to prevent a heart attack are greater than the risk of stomach bleeding from taking daily aspirin.

Who should not take aspirin?

Aspirin’s anti-clotting action can cause unwanted side effects. Taking aspirin makes it harder for the blood to clump and clot. This increases the chance of a bleed. Also, it will be harder for your body to stop bleeding once a bleed has started. People who have stomach ulcers, a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, or a blood-clotting disorder should not take aspirin without talking to your doctor first. Due to some other effects of aspirin, patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure, liver disease, or kidney disease may need to avoid aspirin as well.

Aspirin can trigger asthma attacks in some people who are allergic to aspirin.

Also, don’t take aspirin without first talking to your doctor if you’re already taking prescribed blood thinners, such as Coumadin (brand name for warfarin). The combined effect could cause severe bleeding problems.

Jonathan Thigpen is a PharmD candidate at Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy, interning at The Pharmacy in Mt. Olive.