• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Daily aspirin for women: healthy or dangerous?

July 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Does an aspirin a day really keep heart attacks away? It's a debate that's been going on for years.

Today more and more focus is being put on the "wonder drug," examining both how aspirin can help, but also how it might hurt in some cases. Why are many women taking aspirin?

A recent study shows that of more than 200,000 women who were advised to take aspirin every day, less than 50 percent actually did.

"And the questions abound as to why that is the case," said cardiologist Dr. Alan Ackermann.

Ackermann says women 65 and older with heart disease risks might benefit from an aspirin every day. He also believes aspirin is a great way to protect against another killer.

"It has the potential to reduce a first stroke by as much as 40 percent," said Ackermann.

He says the drug, which can help prevent dangerous blood clots, is best as a secondary prevention for those who've already had a heart attack or stroke.

A Dutch study finds that 50 healthy women would need to take aspirin for 10 years for just one to be helped.

A recent study out of Italy suggests using low-dose aspirin as primary prevention results in a 55-percent increase in major brain or stomach bleeding.

Researchers in London find that for every 162 people who took aspirin, it prevented just one non-fatal heart attack, but caused two serious bleeding episodes.

Ackermann says you have to be careful with the drug.

"Speak to your physician and know the truth about what is beneficial and what is not," said Ackermann.

The bottom line? Ackermann says if you are at moderate or high risk for heart disease or stroke, low-dose aspirin could be beneficial. For anybody else, it could do more harm than good.

Before you start an aspirin regimen, talk to your doctor. If you're already on one, don't quit without consulting your doctor.

According to the Mayo Clinic, stopping suddenly could trigger a blood clot. And if you're taking aspirin because you've had a heart attack or have a heart stent, quitting the regimen can lead to a life-threatening heart attack.


Load Comments