Dear valued patient,
Recently there has been confusion regarding the use of aspirin to prevent heart attack or ischemic stroke and we have received multiple inquiries.
In most cases aspirin should not be used to prevent a FIRST heart attack or ischemic stroke, but should be used to prevent a SECOND recurrent event.
This recommendation stems from the risk benefit ratio for a given person. When deciding to prescribe aspirin, just like any medication, your physician must consider the potential benefits as well as the potential side effects.
For people who have had a heart attack or ischemic stroke the risk of a SECOND event is high. In this patient population the risk of aspirin use is far exceeded by the benefit and so aspirin is indicated to prevent a SECOND event. For these people the risk benefit ratio favors being on aspirin.
This is not the case however in the general population who have not had heart attack or ischemic stroke. In this population the risk of a heart attack or stroke is sufficiently low such that the risk of aspirin side effects like bleeding exceeds the potential benefit. So aspirin is not indicated for the prevention of a person’s FIRST heart attack or ischemic stroke because the risk benefit ratio favors not being on aspirin.
There are several additional factors to be considered and recommendations are individualized based on a person’s history. Aspirin continues to be indicated for people who have had stents, bypass surgery, artificial valves and many other conditions. Just like any medication, be sure to consult with your physician prior to starting or stopping aspirin.
Alfred Valles MD, FACC, FSCAI
Heart Group President