Is taking a daily low-dose aspirin safe for you? from the Harvard Men's Health Watch

Millions of Americans take a low-dose aspirin every day to keep the cardiologist away. But many don't realize that aspirin, probably the most familiar medication of all, comes with a small but real risk of serious bleeding. Everyone taking aspirin should understand why they are taking it and what risks come with it, reports the October 2012 Harvard Men's Health Watch.

"It's important to have a discussion with your doctor, weigh the risks and benefits, and factor in the uncertainty to decide if you should be on aspirin," says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of cardiology at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

Clot buster

Aspirin suppresses the formation of blood clots, the villains behind heart attacks and most strokes. But in doing so, aspirin boosts the risk for bleeding in the stomach and brain. The critical question is whether the risk of cardiovascular disease outweighs the risk of bleeding. Right now, the answer is not simple.

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