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Benefits and risks of low dose aspirin

Low-dose Aspirin (Acetylsalicylic Acid 75 mg) sometimes referred to as baby aspirin because it is one- quarter of the standard aspirin tablet. It has been shown to be helpful when used daily to lower the risk of heart attack, clot-related strokes and other blood flow problems in patients who have cardiovascular (heart) disease or who already had a heart attack or stroke. There may be benefits to daily aspirin use for one if there is evidence of poor blood flow to the brain. However, the risks of long-term aspirin use may be greater than the benefits if there are no signs or risk factors for heart or blood vessel disease.

Low-dose acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin, 75 mg) is also recommended for the prevention of pre-eclampsia in women at high risk of developing the condition. The early use of aspirin in COVID-19 patients, which has the effects of inhibiting virus replication, anti-platelet aggregation, anti-inflammatory and anti-lung injury, is expected to reduce the incidence of severe and critical patients, shorten the length of hospital duration and reduce the incidence of cardiovascular complications. This is still being researched.

Aspirin reduces the blood’s ability to clot. That helps reduce the risk of blood clots forming inside an artery and blocking blood flow in the heart (causing a heart attack) or in the brain (causing a stroke). That’s the benefit of aspirin. The risk from aspirin is that it increases the tendency to bleed, especially in the stomach but also (rarely) in the brain. Aspirin increases the risk of bleeding in the stomach by blocking chemicals called prostaglandins, which protect the stomach lining. Every prescription and over-the-counter medicine has benefits and risks even such a common and familiar medicine as aspirin. Aspirin use can also result in serious side effects, such as bleeding in the brain, and kidney failure as no medicine is completely safe.

Dosage

The doctor will discuss what dose is right for one. It’s important to take low-dose aspirin exactly as recommended by the doctor. The usual dose to prevent a heart attack or stroke is 75mg or 81mg once a day. The daily dose may be higher up to 300mg or 325mg once a day especially if one has just had a stroke, heart attack or heart bypass surgery. If one forgets to take a dose of aspirin, it should be taken as soon as one remembers. If one doesn’t remember until the following day, then the missed dose should be skipped. One should not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.

Types of low-dose aspirin tablets
Low-dose aspirin comes as several different types of tablet:
Standard tablets – that you swallow whole with water
Soluble tablets – that you dissolve in a glass of water.

Enteric-coated tablets -which you swallow whole with water. These tablets have a special coating that means they may be gentler on the stomach. Do not chew or crush them because it’ll stop the coating working.

Contraindications

Most people aged 16 or over can safely take low-dose aspirin if their doctor recommends it.

Low-dose aspirin isn’t suitable for certain people. It should never be given to a child younger than 16 unless their doctor prescribes because there’s a possible link between aspirin and Reye’s syndrome in children. Reye’s syndrome is a very rare illness that can cause serious liver and brain damage. Aspirin should be avoided in those with an allergy to it or similar painkillers such as ibuprofen, also to be avoided in those whoever has a stomach ulcer, indigestions blood clotting problem, lung disease, and asthma. It is not given to those with heavy periods because taking a daily aspirin can make the period heavier. It also not to be given to those who recently had a haemorrhagic stroke. Gout can get worse if one take daily aspirin

Taking aspirin with food may help; so do drugs to treat heartburn, which helps protect the stomach like antacids, acid blockers like famotidine or proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as omeprazole. A tablet that combines aspirin and omeprazole may soon be available

Women should check with their doctors that it’s safe for them to take low-dose aspirin when pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding.

Conclusion

Taking low-dose aspirin by everyone over 50 years of age as it was previously advised by medics is not safe. It should only be taken based on doctors’ recommendations simply because of the side effects. The usual dose is 75mg or 81mg once a day. Those with risk factors of heart attack should have one tablet of a higher strength Aspirin (300mg or 325mg) kept at home, in the bag or office and should be chewed slowly in the mouth in case a heart attack happened. This should be followed by a visit to the emergency room for care.

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