Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Is Aspirin Safe?

Being a blood thinner, aspirin suppresses clotting that might lead to heart attack and ischemic stroke (caused by a blocked artery in the brain). Some studies already have shown that taking doses ranging from an 81-milligram baby aspirin to a 325-milligram full-strength tablet can be helpful and aspirin therapy is recommended for those who have had a heart attack or who are at high risk for one. 

Taking aspirin can also raise the risk of dangerous bleeding in the stomach or brain. In a group of people with existing cardiovascular disease, aspirin can prevent 250 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death. At the same time, 40 cases of serious bleeding will occur. The ratio of risk to benefit is roughly 6 people benefited for every one harmed. But as a public health policy, this risk equation is considered to be acceptable.

Hence, people who already have had a heart attack, ischemic stroke or other diagnosed cardiovascular disease that places them at higher risk of additional problems should take low-dose aspirin as advised by their doctors, unless they have some major bleeding issues or an allergy.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are taking aspirin everyday for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease because it is cheap and widely available. Primary prevention means one does not have cardiovascular disease but hope that aspirin would help prevent it.

In reality, aspirin might not suitable for everyone. A study, which was published on June 6, 2012 in ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’, found that 20 out of every 10,000 people experienced a major bleed – 5 times higher than the bleeding rate seen in previous clinical trials, after examining health records of nearly 40,000 people in the Italian National Health Service.

On May 6, 2014, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a reminder indicating that while taking an aspirin a day might help prevent heart attack or stroke in some people, it might not be appropriate for everyone because the common drug can have serious side effects that offset the benefits. Hence, it should only be used only for people at high risk of heart attack and stroke under the care of their doctors.

Also, FDA has finally told giant drug maker Bayer Corp not to expect FDA to approve for labels listing aspirin as a drug for primary prevention of heart attack and stroke since studies had so far not been able to show a significant benefit of aspirin for primary prevention uses.

But people who are already on aspirin prescribed by their doctors should not stop taking it without checking with their doctors since it can be life-threatening to abruptly halt their doses.


  1. Always keep a bottle of aspirin in your pocket. If you think you’re having a heart attack, take one 325mg tablet of adult aspirin. Chew it , don’t just swallow it. It allows for the aspirin to get into your blood stream faster and slow the heart attack down. Check some more tips here www.doctorbing.com

  2. My uncle has been going through some cardiovascular treatments lately. This has made my whole family more aware of cardiovascular health in general. He's doing well, and thank you for these tips on preventing it. I've heard a lot about this, but it's nice to have the facts all in one place.

    Aimee Hart | http://www.scvc.com.au