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Heart Health

Advice about daily aspirin

July 1, 2021

Should you take this anti-clotting drug to prevent a heart attack or stroke?

In the late 1980s, many middle-aged adults began taking aspirin on a regular basis, following findings from a famous Harvard study (see "The ascent of aspirin"). Aspirin helps prevent blood clots that can restrict blood flow and trigger a heart attack or stroke. But there’s a price to pay for that cardiovascular protection — a heightened risk of bleeding.

"The benefit of a taking a daily low-dose aspirin always has to be counterbalanced with the risk of bleeding, which is usually minor but sometimes serious," says Dr. Christopher Cannon, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Over the past three decades, we’ve learned a lot more about aspirin’s benefits and risks in a broad range of people, including those with certain health conditions and older adults.

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