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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
High Blood Pressure
Asprin or no asprin
I am a 52 year old female with blood pressure of 108/60 . My question is my doctor told me to take asprin daily as I am over 50 years old. However, another doctor suggested I should not take asprin as I have no hypertension. What is the correct opinion? I am confused.
Hello and thank you for your question. This is a very important and popular question, and one that is continually evolving as more data is compiled. There are several schools of thought regarding aspirin therapy and unfortunately opinions differ regarding its use. Most experts agree, that whether you need daily aspirin therapy depends on your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Daily aspirin therapy helps lower the risk of heart attack and clot-related strokes, but it's not appropriate for everyone given some of the side effects (e.g. increased risk of ulcer formation, excessive bleeding) associated with its use. Its use is generally indicated if you've suffered a heart attack or stroke, or you're at high risk of either. If so you should consult your cardiologist for his or her approval.
Here are some risk factors to consider when contemplating daily aspirin use (Adopted from the Mayo Clinic):
- Sex. Men are at greater risk of heart attacks and stroke than women are, until women reach the age of 65, after which the risk is similar.
- Family history of heart disease or stroke. A history of early heart disease in a parent or sibling places you at higher risk.
- Age. The older you get, the greater your risk.
- Smoking status. Smoking is one of the top risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. It also reduces the effectiveness of aspirin therapy.
- High cholesterol. High cholesterol, particularly a high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level and a low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level, contributes to the risk.
- Diabetes. People who have diabetes are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you don't have any of these risk factors, then it is probably in your best interest not to take daily aspirin. If however you have 2 or more of these risk factors, then you should discuss in depth your options with a cardiologist.
I hope I have been of some help, and I wish you the best with your health.
Kaine C Onwuzulike, MD, PhD
Resident of Nuerological Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University