Aspirin and Heart Attacks
The American Heart Association recommends aspirin for the following groups:
- People with a history of:
- People with high risk for a heart attack (see Heart Attack Risk).
As mentioned it is recommended that a person not start aspirin for heart attack prevention without first talking with his or her doctor, as the risks and benefits vary for each person.
According to available research, the benefits of aspirin appear to differ somewhat based on a person's gender.
Most research studies on heart attacks and aspirin have focused on men. Based on available research studies, aspirin decreases the risk of coronary heart disease (primarily heart attacks) in middle-aged and older adults who are at increased risk but have never had a heart attack or stroke. Based on these clinical studies, aspirin decreased the risk of coronary heart disease by 28 percent.
Aspirin also helps to lower the risk of a heart attack for those men who have already had one. It also helps to keep arteries open in those who have had a previous heart bypass or other artery-opening procedure such as coronary angioplasty.
Aspirin did not alter the chances of having a stroke, however, and appears to slightly increase the chances of having a specific type of stroke (hemorrhagic stroke) caused by bleeding in the brain. There is also good evidence that aspirin increases the incidence of gastrointestinal bleeding.