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Should I consider taking a daily aspirin?

You should consider taking a daily aspirin if you are at high risk of coronary artery disease. The high risk population includes those with diabetes, high blood pressure, known coronary artery disease or peripheral vascular disease. Baby aspirin would suffice—the 81 milligram (mg) or low-dose aspirin would be enough for most people.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

In deciding whether or not you should take aspirin preventively, your own risks and benefits are more important than your family history.
 
If you already have a history of coronary artery disease, then taking aspirin can decrease the risk of another cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke. However, you have to balance that with the risk of intestinal bleeding, which can also increase with aspirin.
 
For primary prevention—that is, if you haven’t had a heart attack or another event before -- the decision depends on the balance of risk factors including your age (women age 55-79 and men 45-79), blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, heart rhythm disorders and heart enlargement. It’s also important to consider your ethnicity, as different ethnicities (such as Asian vs Caucasian) can have different effects from aspirin.

So, if you fall in these age groups and have any of the risk factors that I mentioned above, and especially if you already have known heart disease, you should talk with your doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.