Should you be taking an aspirin a day?
Low-dose aspirin has a different cardiovascular benefit for women than it does for men. Aspirin cuts men’s risk of heart attack . For women, the benefit is to reduce the risk of stroke. It has been shown that people who have had a heart attack can benefit from low-dose aspirin. But there’s ongoing debate over who — if anyone — should take aspirin daily to prevent a first heart attack or stroke.
Aspirin as a prevention for a first heart attack or stroke?
Men and women at elevated risk of cardiovascular disease can benefit from aspirin, but each individual needs to discuss this with his or her doctor before deciding to take aspirin. The decision to take daily aspirin is not a simple one because our biology is not simple. Weigh the benefits of taking aspirin against the risks by determining your personal risk of heart attack or stroke. Risk goes up as people accumulate risk factors for heart attack or stroke.
These risk factors include:
- Age. Starting at age 45, stroke/heart attack risk increases each year.
- Family history. A close relative who had a heart attack or stroke at a relatively young age raises your own risk.
- Diabetes. People with high blood sugar levels — whether or not they have full-blown diabetes — are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Smoking. If you’ve ever smoked cigarettes, you have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.