How aspirin might help a heart attack
We have all heard of ways to become more heart healthy by eating right and exercising regularly. However, those identified at high risk for heart disease may need to look to aspirin therapy for further assistance.
Heart attacks and strokes are caused by blood clots formed in the arteries feeding into either the heart or the brain. These clots form following a rupture of plaque build-up the artery. Aspirin can thin out the blood flowing through these arteries, preventing it from clotting and causing a heart attack or stroke.
Here is some important information from the American Heart Association to determine when it is appropriate to take aspirin:
- You should consult your physician before taking aspirin as a preventative measure for heart attack or stroke.
- Daily aspirin: Taking a low dose of aspirin daily may help prevent blood clots for individuals with a high risk of heart attack or stroke. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes are all risk factors. It is important to first consult your physician before taking daily aspirin.
- During a heart attack: At the first sign of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. The operator may recommend taking aspirin before an emergency team can assist you. Early symptoms include mild chest pain, discomfort through the back, jaw or arm, dizziness, extreme weakness, or irregular heartbeats. The sooner you take aspirin, the better the chance of decreasing the severity of your heart attack.
- To prevent a second heart attack: A daily dose of aspirin may be prescribed following a heart attack as a preventative measure for future heart attacks. This dose is usually larger than the daily low-dose aspirin therapy taken by individuals at risk of their first heart attack. Consult your physician before taking any aspirin regimen.
- During a stroke: It is important to call 911 immediately at the first sign of a stroke. Early symptoms include: dizziness, numbness on one side of your face or body, trouble speaking or understanding, or a sudden headache. You should not take aspirin during a stroke. Not all strokes are caused by blood clots, and for those that are not, aspirin could potentially increase damage.
To determine if an aspirin regimen is right for you, consult your health care professional. You should not begin taking aspirin without first talking to your doctor.