Sunday, November 20, 2011

Live to Be 100: Should You Take Baby Aspirin Every Day?

Aspirin therapy - yes or no?
The November 2011 issue of Reader's Digest has 12 tips on how to live to be 100 (see page 187). Number six advises asking your doctor about taking a single 81 mg low-dose aspirin to help prevent heart attack, stroke and cancer. The article also cautions that aspirin use has risks, so be sure to consult your doctor BEFORE starting.

Then I read a September 2011 Costco Connection article on how to make your real age younger (page 37 - and yes, I'm behind on my reading) which states, "If you're over the age of 40 (women) or 35 (men), take two baby aspirin (162 mg total) at breakfast; just make sure to get  your doctor's approval first."

Ok - so which is it? One or two? I'm well over 40 and have been taking one baby aspirin each morning for quite some time. Do I now need to double up? If so, no problem because it's already a habit.

But wait! Further research online turns up some interesting info at the Mayo Clinic website. According to Daily Aspirin Therapy: Understand the Benefits and Risks, "You should consider daily aspirin therapy only if you've had a heart attack or stroke, or you have a high risk of either. And then, only take aspirin with your doctor's approval."

What? I get the second sentence but have not previously heard the first. So do I have a high risk for heart attack or stroke? No. And what about cancer prevention? The Mayo Clinic article doesn't even mention that. It does address stopping aspirin therapy, however, and this may be even more important! In answer to what happens if you stop taking aspirin every day, the article goes on to say that “. . . stopping daily aspirin therapy can have a rebound effect that may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.”

Are you kidding me? Is this a case of damned if I do and damned if I don’t? What happens if I just miss a day or two? Will that trigger the rebound effect that increases my risk? Or does it take longer? Hmm. Well, beings I have my doctor's blessing to take one baby aspirin each day, I'll continue on with that. But I guess I need to start taking it when I’m away from home, as well. And the next time I go in, I'll ask if I should up my daily intake to two.

So, what about you? Have you talked to your doctor about whether or not you should take baby aspirin every day?

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