You may have heard at one time or another that a daily regimen of aspirin can prevent heart attacks and that it may even be beneficial to take in the midst of a heart attack to help decrease damage to the heart. You may have also wondered if taking a daily dose of aspirin is right for you. Generally, a daily aspirin regimen is recommended for those people who have experienced a heart attack in the past or are at an increased risk of heart attack due to underlying medical conditions. However, you should never start taking a daily aspirin regimen without speaking to your doctor first.
What Happens During A Heart Attack?
Both heart attacks and strokes occur as a result of the blood flow to a particular part of the heart or the brain being restricted or cut off. This blockage is typically the result of an artery becoming lined with plaque. Plaque forms against the inner walls of an artery or multiple arteries as a result of cholesterol build-up, cellular waste, fatty deposits or collections of other substances. Once plaque has formed, the flow of blood is restricted and in turn may trigger a heart attack or stroke.
Who Is At Risk For A Heart Attack?
There are several factors that may increase a person’s risk of having a heart attack.
- People who have high blood pressure or high levels of cholesterol in their blood are at greater risk of having a heart attack.
- Additionally, individuals who smoke or have high stress levels are at a greater risk.
- People who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes are also at an increased risk of having a heart attack.
- In addition, women who ingest more than one and men who ingest more than two alcoholic beverages daily are at an increased risk of having a heart attack occur.
- As with many medical conditions, having a family history or personal history of heart attack and/or stroke makes it more likely to occur.
Heart Attack Symptoms
Symptoms of a heart attack can be difficult to identify. Symptoms of a heart attack are very different than what is portrayed in movies and on television. Occasionally, a heart attack can occur without producing any symptoms, or with minor symptoms that may be passed off as something else, such as indigestion. The more symptoms that you experience, the more likely you are to possibly be having a heart attack. If you suspect that you may be experiencing a heart attack or if you are unsure, contact a medical professional or call emergency services immediately. Some common symptoms of heart attack can include:
- Heaviness or a tightening sensation in your chest; chest pain
- Pain in your chest that radiates to your arm or shoulder and sometimes up to your teeth and jaw
- Fainting and shortness of breath
- Heart attack symptoms in women may differ and also include stomach pain and heartburn and an unfamiliar sense of exhaustion
How Does Aspirin Help During A Heart Attack?
If you suspect that you are in the midst of a heart attack, the first thing you should do is call emergency services. The person answering your call will likely recommend you chew and swallow a single aspirin. Chewing the aspirin helps to release the aspirin into your system at a faster rate. The ingredients in aspirin may help to limit the damage caused by a heart attack, by hindering the production of platelets in the blood. If you think that you may be having a stroke, do not take aspirin. Because aspirin hinders the production of platelets, which aid in the bloods ability to clot, aspirin may actually make the bleed from a stroke worse and is therefore not recommended.
How Does Aspirin Help Prevent Heart Attacks?
Starting a daily regimen is a good idea if you have experienced a heart attack in the past or are at an increased risk of having a heart attack. If your doctor has recommended that you add aspirin to your daily regimen, you may be wondering how a little aspirin can help prevent a heart attack. If you have plaque lining your arteries, the occurrence of a blood clot is more likely. If you develop a blood clot that ruptures, you may in turn have a heart attack or stroke. Aspirin works as a blood thinner, decreasing the amount of platelets in your blood and thus preventing clotting, which may help to prevent a heart attack.
What Is The Proper Dosage?
Most medical professionals recommend a daily dosage of between 81mg to 325mg of aspirin. You will need to consult your doctor to determine which dose is the most beneficial to you. There is no one set dose for every person; aspirin in low doses can be just as effective or possibly more effective than higher doses.
Are There Side Effects?
As with any medication, there are possible side effects that are associated with daily intake of aspirin. If you experience any side effects while taking daily aspirin, it is important that you contact your doctor immediately. Side effects may include:
- Increase occurrence of bleeding ulcers
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Increased risk of a bleeding stroke (Hemorrhagic Stroke)
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears and perhaps hearing loss if an overdose occurs
Is Aspirin Safe For Everyone?
Since aspirin acts as a blood thinner, you should not take aspirin if you have certain medical conditions. If you have been diagnosed with a blood disorder or a clotting disorder, aspirin is not safe to take. Persons with asthma or stomach ulcers should not begin a daily aspirin regimen. Aspirin may not be recommended for you if you drink alcohol daily or if you will be undergoing any surgical or dental procedures, as aspirin may cause you to bleed more than usual.
If you are currently on a daily dose of aspirin, do not abruptly stop your regimen. Suddenly stopping the intake of aspirin may produce a ricochet effect and actually increase your risk of developing blood clots that can lead to heart attack or stroke. If you are currently taking aspirin daily and wish to stop treatment, consult your doctor. Additionally, do not begin an aspirin regimen without first speaking to your doctor to determine if aspirin is appropriate for you and if so, what dosage would be the most beneficial.