Aspirin & Your Heart: Should You Or Shouldn’t You?

In addition to taking aspirin to relieve pain and fever, millions of Americans take a low-dose or “baby” aspirin daily to reduce their risk for heart attack and stroke.

Should you join in? Probably not, unless you have your health care provider’s OK. That’s because the benefits may not make it worth the increased risk for bleeding in people who are at low risk for heart attack or stroke.

The answers to the following questions can help you understand the risks and benefits of aspirin.

Q. What are the different uses for aspirin?

A. Aspirin is prescribed for these conditions:

Heart attack. Taking a regular-strength aspirin tablet lowers the risk for death if taken as soon as a heart attack is suspected. And taking aspirin has other benefits. Most health care providers now prescribe lifelong aspirin therapy to all people after a heart attack.

Repeated heart attack or angina. People who already have had a heart attack or who suffer from chest pain can reduce their chance for these conditions by taking aspirin.

Stroke prevention. Regular aspirin use can help to prevent a stroke in people who have had a ministroke. Aspirin also helps to prevent a second stroke.

Pain relief. Aspirin relieves arthritis and other aches and pains.