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Daily aspirin recommendations have changed. Should I talk to my doctor?

Published in Pharmacy, For the Health of It Author: Sarah Weyer, PharmD

Because heart attacks and strokes are the #1 and #2 causes of death and disability, a simple daily aspirin has been shown to prevent a first heart attack or stroke.

However, aspirin use is not appropriate for everyone. And new medical guidelines have recently changed recommending that fewer people take an aspirin each day. If you have been taking a daily aspirin or if you are thinking of doing so, you need to have a conversation with your health care provider. He or she can help determine if it’s right for you.

This change has caused some uncertainty among patients and families. Here are the answers to some common questions about taking a daily aspirin.

Who is still a candidate for a daily aspirin?

You may be a candidate if you:

  • Are between the age of 50 and 69
  • Have not had a bleeding ulcer from the stomach or intestine
  • Are not allergic to aspirin
  • Are not taking other clot-preventing or anti-inflammatory medications

Those with additional risk factors of having heart attack or stroke may benefit more from a daily aspirin. These are individuals with diabetes, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, smoke and/or have a family history of early heart attacks or strokes.

How can a daily aspirin work to prevent heart attacks and stroke?

Daily aspirin helps prevent clots from forming and thus lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke. Most heart attacks and strokes are caused by blood clots that occur inside the arteries that supply the heart or brain. Clots can form quickly and clog the flow of blood to these important organs. When heart cells die from not getting enough blood, a heart attack occurs. When brain cells die from not getting enough blood, a stroke occurs.

Are there health risks with taking a daily aspirin?

Because aspirin prevents blood clots, people who use aspirin daily have a slightly higher risk of bruising and bleeding. Bleeding can occasionally be serious (for example, when associated with a stomach ulcer). Very rarely, people may be allergic to aspirin. For these reasons, it’s important to ask your doctor or a health care professional if aspirin is right for you.

At the pharmacy, there are many kinds of aspirin available. What are the differences?

Aspirin is effective whether it is generic or brand name, buffered or plain, enteric-coated or chewable. Enteric-coated aspirin is layered with a protective coating that stops the pill from dissolving in the stomach and irritating the lining. The pill passes through the stomach and dissolves in the intestines instead. Buffered aspirin contains an antacid to help neutralize stomach acid. Enteric-coated and buffered types of aspirins may be a good choice for people who are prone to stomach irritation, but other forms of aspirin rarely cause problems.

Can a daily aspirin be taken if I am also taking other medications?

Aspirin has been proven safe to take with almost all other medications. But to minimize risk, you should only take daily aspirin if your health care provider has prescribed it. In general, you shouldn’t take aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke when you are using other anti-clotting medications.

For more information or to take a self-assessment to see if aspirin use is right for you, visit

Call your health care provider if you have questions or log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.