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Aspirin for Heart Disease: Take It or Leave It?

Aspirin for Heart Disease: Take It or Leave It?

Updated guidelines suggest that daily aspirin for heart health may be beneficial for some, but not for all.

For years, healthcare providers have recommended taking a small dose of aspirin daily to prevent cardiovascular disease.

“Aspirin works to make it less likely that blood clots will form in your blood vessels,” said Robert D. Miles Jr., MD, FACC, a board-certified cardiologist at Cardiovascular Consultants of South Georgia. “Blood clots can form on unstable plaque and block arterial blood flow to the heart, leading to a heart attack, or the brain, causing a stroke.”

However, some recent studies have challenged this long-standing suggestion, due to evidence showing marginal benefit in low-risk patients—and some harm—from taking aspirin every day.

Who Should Take a Daily Aspirin?
Generally, patients at significant risk benefit the most from aspirin therapy. Your doctor may suggest you take it if you:

  • Are 40+ years old
  • Are at low risk for bleeding
  • Are at significant risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Have a history of coronary atherosclerosis, heart attack, coronary stent, stroke or coronary artery bypass graft surgery

Talk to your doctor before starting or stopping aspirin for any reason. All adults should concentrate on maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease.

Habits to Kick for a Healthy Heart

Here are three habits to kick today to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease:

  1. Skipping flossing. Bacteria that spread from your mouth through the body may cause or worsen heart disease. Good dental hygiene is important for the health of your heart. Plus, flossing adds only a few extra minutes to your nightly routine.
  2. Stressing out. While stress is difficult to avoid, keeping calm can prevent your blood pressure from spiking and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  3. Slacking on your workout routine. Exercise keeps your heart pumping and lowers your risk of developing blocked arteries. You don’t need to join a gym for a healthy heart—instead fit in 2 ½ hours each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, dancing or swimming.