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Does Aspirin Prevent Stroke?

Sep 28, 2018 by Nancy Hmieleski, RN, BSN Director of Nursing

Doctors often suggest a daily aspirin for older adults to help prevent certain health conditions, such as stroke. Recently, though, new studies have called into question the effectiveness of aspirin therapy for preventing stroke in people who are already at a greater risk for having a stroke. The studies indicate that people who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or who are smokers probably don’t get any stroke prevention benefits from taking aspirin. The somewhat conflicting information available about aspirin therapy may have you wondering what it’s used for and whether your aging relative should be taking aspirin.

What is Aspirin Therapy Used For?

Aspirin therapy is generally used to reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Because aspirin acts as a blood thinner, it prevents blood clots from forming. Blood clots can block arteries that feed the heart or the brain, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Some conditions under which a doctor may suggest aspirin therapy are:

  • The patient has already survived a heart attack or stroke.
  • A stent has been placed in a coronary artery or the person has had coronary bypass surgery.
  • There is a high risk of having a first heart attack.
  • The person has diabetes, one other risk factor for heart disease, and is a man over 50 or a woman over 60.

Are There Risks to Aspirin Therapy?

While aspirin is an inexpensive way to help manage heart attack and stroke risks, it should not be started without the advice of a doctor. Aspirin therapy can have some serious side effects, such as:

  • Internal Bleeding: Taking aspirin every day makes it more likely that a stomach ulcer will develop, which may bleed. In addition, aspirin can cause bleeding elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: Sometimes aspirin therapy can cause a hemorhagic stroke. This kind of stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
  • Allergic Reaction: Some people are allergic to aspirin and should not take it.
  • Medication Interactions: Aspirin can interact with other medications. A doctor should look at all the medications the senior is currently taking before deciding if they should begin aspirin therapy.

In addition to the possibility of side effects, it is also important to talk to a doctor before taking daily aspirin because the dosage may vary depending on several factors. Also, stopping aspirin therapy without the help of a doctor can be dangerous since it can actually increase the risk for heart attack.

If your aging relative has been advised to take an aspirin each day, an elder care provider can remind them to take it. They can also make sure the senior doesn’t take more than the recommended amount. Elder care providers can also report any signs of side effects or interactions to a family caregiver. And, if the older adult needs to see the doctor to adjust the dosage, an elder care provider can drive them to the doctor.

Sources

http://www.strokesmart.org/Aspirin-FishOil

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/daily-aspirin-therapy/art-20046797

If you or an elderly loved one are considering elder care in High Bridge, NJ, or the surrounding areas, call the caring professionals at Comfort Keepers of Flemington, NJ. Call today (908) 806-2220.

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