Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
 Frequently Asked Questions

What is aspirin therapy?

You’ve probably used aspirin to treat your headaches or fever. Aspirin can also be used to increase blood flow to the heart and brain. Aspirin therapy is when a doctor prescribes a dose of aspirin every day or every other day to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Why do I need aspirin therapy?

Some people are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than others. Aspirin therapy can prevent heart attacks and strokes in those high risk people. Only your doctor can tell you if aspirin therapy is right for you.

Am I at risk for a stroke or heart attack?

You may be at risk for a heart attack or stroke if you:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a high cholesterol
  • Have a family history of heart attack or stroke
  • Have Diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight
Your gender and your race may affect your risk of heart attack and stroke. Your risk also increases with age.

I can get aspirin at the store. Should I buy some and start taking it every day?

No. Aspirin can cause side effects so daily use of aspirin is not for everyone. Also, the aspirin label does not tell you how to take it for the prevention of heart attacks and stroke. This is why you need to talk to your doctor about aspirin therapy.

What is the harm or risk in taking aspirin?

All medicines have risks and no medicine is completely safe. Aspirin can cause serious side effects, such as stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, kidney failure, and certain kinds of strokes. These risks also increase as you age. The risk of complications also increases if aspirin is combined with other medicines like ibuprofen or naprosyn (Advil, Motrin, Naproxen, Aleve etc.). Aspirin therapy may not be right for you if:
• You do not have heart or blood vessel disease
• You have a low risk of heart attack or stroke
• You have a bleeding disorder
• You have stomach ulcers
• You have more than 3 alcoholic drinks every day

What does my doctor need to know before prescribing aspirin?

• Your medical history
• A list of current medications. This should include:
      • prescriptions 
      • over-the-counter medicine
      • vitamins, dietary supplements, or herbal remedies
• Allergies, sensitivities, and other information that prevents you from taking medication

Why is a medication list important?

Aspirin is a medication and it can interact with other medications you take. This can cause side effects or prevent aspirin from working. To prevent having any complications, you must:

  • Keep a current list of every medicine, vitamin, herb or supplement you are taking
  • Include the name, dosage, and how often the medication is taken
  • Present it to your doctor so they can determine if aspirin is right for you.

My doctor said I should take aspirin. What do i need to know?

• What dose to take
• Directions for taking it
• Why it was prescribed
• How you will know it’s working
• How often your doctor needs to review your aspirin therapy

Your doctor will also discuss with you:

• The benefits of using aspirin therapy
• The side effects you may experience
• Other medication options including their benefits and risks

Be cautious when taking other medications!

If you are on daily aspirin therapy, you must be careful with other medications. Taking too much aspirin can cause serious bleeding problems.

  • Read the labels of all over-the-counter medications you take (like cold medicine and pain relievers) to see if they contain aspirin.
  • If they do contain aspirin, you must call your doctor you use them.
  • Your doctor will determine if they are safe for you to take.

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