Aspirin and Heart Disease
It has been proven that Aspirin (а trademark of Bayer) in low doses and over a long period of time can significantly reduce the risk of blood vessel clotting. Aspirin is used for secondary prophylaxis of heart attack and ischemic stroke. It is also recommended to patients suffering from angina pectoris (chest pain due to coronary heart disease), patients that have stents, bypass surgeries or any other types of vessel surgeries or grafts. The aspirin prophylaxis is also recommended to people having other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes, high level of cholesterol or other lipids in the blood, overweight, high blood pressure.
How it Works
Aspirin works by preventing the platelets from aggregating and clogging the heart or brain vessels which would stop the blood supply to these organs and lead to irreversible damages.
In the past aspirin used to be recommended for prevention of heart attacks even to people who do not have any risk factors. Nowadays there is certain disagreement over this issue. No significant benefits have been registered in this group of patients. So the approach should be individual and the benefits and risks have to be evaluated for every single case.
It is important never to start aspirin prophylaxis without consulting your healthcare provider. Although taking aspirin occasionally for pain or fever is quite common, its prolonged use can have a number of adverse effects. Aspirin leads to an increased risk of bleeding, a higher risk of haemorrhagic stroke and it has an irritating effect on the stomach lining. You should inform your doctor if you have any blood disorders, such as haemophilia, if you have history of any gastrointestinal bleeding, a haemorrhagic stroke or any other internal bleeding, aspirin or other NSAIDs allergy, stomach or duodenal ulcers. Aspirin should be used very carefully in such cases and only if the potential benefit outweighs the risks.
Dosage for Heart Attacks
The usual prescribed dose for prophylaxis of heart attack or stroke ranges between 75 and 100 mg daily. To minimize the irritating effect of aspirin on the stomach mucosa, taking it after a meal and with plenty of water is recommended. You can also use coated tablets as they are gentler to the stomach.
In case you are going to have surgery or dental procedure, inform your doctor as sometimes stronger bleeding can be expected. If you are prescribed aspirin prophylaxis, inform your physician about any other drugs that you are using. SSRIs (type of antidepressants), Warfarin, corticosteroids and many other drugs can lead to a higher risk of bleeding and other adverse effects. Ibuprofen may decrease the anti-clogging effect of aspirin. Stopping aspirin abruptly is not recommended. If you want or need to stop it, discuss the matter with your doctor.
If you notice any signs of a heart attack (such as severe chest or abdominal pain), chewing an uncoated tablet of aspirin (250-325mg) is recommended in case you are not allergic to it and you do not have any other contraindications. However, the first thing you should do is to call the emergency medical services.