Aspirin Therapy May Help Prevent a Heart Attack

By: Julie Long, Nurse Practitioner

You may have heard that aspirin may be beneficial in reducing the risk of having a heart attack. To understand why, it’s helpful to understand how your heart gets blood and oxygen.

Normally, your blood carries oxygen to all parts of your body. This oxygen is essential to the health of your cells and organs. However, when an artery in your heart is narrowed by the buildup of fat-like substances (plaque), this makes it harder for blood to flow. Eventually, a clot can form.

When a clot obstructs blood flow, it prevents it from transporting necessary oxygen to portions of the heart. This can result in a heart attack, which causes the heart muscle tissue to die and scar.

So how does aspirin help?
Aspirin primarily works by helping to prevent the formation of clots. Daily aspirin therapy is most often recommended for people who are at high risk for a heart attack. This includes people who have risks factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, a family history of heart disease, pre-diabetes or diabetes and who are older than 65.

However, aspirin is not recommended for everyone. People with stomach issues/ulcers, bleeding or clotting abnormalities, hearing loss, uncontrolled high blood pressure or sensitivity to aspirin may not be candidates for aspirin.

If your health care provider has recommended aspirin therapy for you, here are a few important things to remember:
• Make sure you are clear on the dose of aspirin you should take.
• Aspirin can cause stomach irritation. Therefore, it’s best to take aspirin with food at the first meal of the day. It’s important to avoid taking aspirin at bedtime.
• Be sure to report any usual bleeding or bruising to your health care provider.
• Finally, prior to starting any medication, including aspirin, discuss this decision with your health care provider.

 

To see if you are a candidate for aspirin therapy, please talk with your health care provider.