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Doctors say benefits of Aspirin use don't always outweigh the risks

Dr. Patel explains that in most adults, the prevention benefit of Aspirin is offset by the risk of bleeding.

TAMPA, Fla. — Aspirin has long been used to help treat cardiovascular disease, but doctors say the benefits don't always outweigh the risks.

In fact, the American Heart Association says recent large trials indicate the overall benefit of Aspirin is small. 

Dr. Aarti Patel, Associate Professor at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, broke down the claims explaining that “the people who absolutely need it, because it is part of their treatment plan, are people who have had a stroke, or people who have had a heart attack.” The medicine helps prevent blood clots, so patients who are at high risk for one of the two may consider its use.

Dr. Patel explains that in most adults, prevention benefit is offset by the risk of bleeding. That risk can increase if mixed with other medications. 

“Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory in addition to a blood thinner. Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, all of these things don’t work exactly like Aspirin but similarly, so if you’re taking those in addition to Aspirin, it can further the risks associated with Aspirin," she said.

The risks also increase with age, so talk with your doctor first, and pay attention to any side effects if you’re using Aspirin regularly. 

“If you have any signs of bleeding, sometimes people notice blood in their stool, sometimes people will have anemia,” Dr. Patel explained.

Focusing on “things like maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising, diet, controlling blood pressure and your cholesterol,” can help people avoid the need for Aspirin, she added.

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