Can this common drug in your medicine cabinet reduce your risk of dying from COVID-19?

At least 29 million Americans take low-dose aspirin every day in hopes of preventing a heart attack or stroke.

Now, a new University of Maryland study found that hospitalized COVID-19 patients, who were taking a daily 81-milligram dose of aspirin, had a significantly lower risk of complications than those not taking aspirin.

"Forty percent across the board did not require a ventilator, did not need to go to the ICU," explained Dr. Michael Daignault, an ER physician at Providence St. Joseph Hospital.

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Dr. Daignault says aspirin's ability to reduce blood clots may be the key.

"We know that aside from being a respiratory virus, that COVID-19 at the local organ level causes a lot of mini clots," Dr. Daignault said.

Clotting and inflammation is what sends many patients into the ICU.

So during this pandemic, should everyone be taking daily baby aspirin? Dr. Daignault says this was a small correlation study and without more research, he would not advise it.

"It's hard to say if they got better because of the aspirin specifically or because of other reasons," Dr. Daignault explained.

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A Harvard study found more than six million Americans are taking aspirin without a doctor's advice or knowledge. Experts say for people who don't have severe cardiovascular issues, the risks may outweigh the potential benefits.

"Aspirin can raise your risk of having gastritis or irritation of your stomach lining or a ulcer or an upper gastrointestinal bleed," Dr. Daignault said.

If you're thinking about taking a daily baby aspirin for any health reason, it's important that you discuss this with your doctor first.

"Aspirin is cheap, it's widely available, and it could be a potential game changer, but we definitely need more perspective or robust studies," Dr. Daignault said.

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