Talk with Your Health Care Provider About Taking Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attacks

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How does aspirin help men prevent heart attacks?

Plaque is a sticky substance that sometimes builds up and blocks arteries that carry blood to the heart. This can cause heart disease, including angina (“AN-je-nah”) and heart attacks. Aspirin can help blood flow smoothly to the heart.

If you are a man aged 45–79, talk with your provider about whether to take aspirin to reduce the chances of a heart attack.

What increases the chances of having a heart attack? The older you are, the greater the chances that you can have a heart attack. Other risk factors for heart attack include:
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• High cholesterol level
• Smoking

The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chances of having a heart attack.
How much can aspirin reduce the chance of having a heart attack?

It depends on your age, your health, and your lifestyle. If you smoke, the best way to prevent a heart attack is to quit smoking. Whether you smoke or not, taking aspirin gives you some protection against a heart attack. In general, aspirin reduces the chance of a first heart attack by about 32% in men.

Should you take aspirin?

It’s always a good idea to talk with your provider before taking aspirin to prevent a heart attack.

• If you have already had a heart attack, you should take aspirin unless your provider says not to.

• If your chances of a heart attack are high, the benefits of taking aspirin probably outweigh the harms.

• Older people are more likely to have a heart attack. But, they are also more likely to have serious stomach bleeding if they take aspirin.

Does aspirin also help women prevent heart attacks?

Aspirin is not useful for preventing heart attacks in women, but it is useful for preventing strokes. Please see the brochure Talk with Your Health Care Provider About Taking Aspirin to Prevent Strokes for more information.