The Family Health Guide

Aspirin and your heart: Many questions, some answers

Although aspirin is an excellent medication for fever and pain, other drugs can fill these roles equally well. But aspirin also has a unique role. In patients with coronary artery disease, aspirin prevents heart attacks.

In 1989, the Harvard's Physicians' Health Study provided impressive evidence that aspirin can indeed protect a man's heart. More than 22,000 men between the ages of 40 and 84 volunteered to take either a standard 325-milligram (mg) aspirin tablet or a placebo every other day. Over five years, the men in the study who took aspirin suffered 44% fewer heart attacks than their peers taking placebo.

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