Baby aspirin for your heart? Heart and stroke doctors’ views

A cardiologist’s and neurologist’s take on baby aspirin daily for your heart and stroke prevention.

New recommendations for taking baby aspirin daily to prevent heart attacks and strokes may have you wondering what to do. According to a cardiologist and a neurologist, fundamentally, advice on the topic really hasn’t changed.

With a few exceptions, if you have never been diagnosed with heart disease, vascular disease or had a stroke, you shouldn’t be taking daily aspirin, said Mostafa O. El-Refai, M.D., an interventional cardiologist with Norton Heart & Vascular Institute.

Learn your links to heart disease

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists treat more cardiovascular patients — about 100,000 every year — than any other provider in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

“If you’re healthy, but worried about your heart, aspirin isn’t the first line of defense,” Dr. El-Refai said. “The first steps to ensuring good heart health are eating a healthy diet, exercise and making lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking before turning to daily aspirin.”

Before making a change to over-the-counter or prescribed medications, talk to your primary care physician.

“The decision regarding the risks and benefits of daily aspirin to prevent stroke and heart disease is complex and depends on a person’s own individual health status and risk factors,” said Bryan Eckerle, M.D., neurologist with Norton Neuroscience Institute.

A report released recently by the American College of Cardiology recommended that low-dose aspirin for prevention of cardiovascular disease should be used only by certain high-risk patients.

The guidance recommends low-dose aspirin only for adults 40 to 70 years old who are at higher risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease — plaque buildup on arterial walls — but not increased risk of bleeding. Adults over 70 or any adult at increased risk of bleeding should not take aspirin daily, the report concluded.

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