Aspirin Low Dose Aspirin Health Benefits with Few Side-Effects
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KNOW THE FACTS - Aspirin a Day to Reduce Your
Risk of Heart Attack & Strokes
Once your doctor decides a daily aspirin regimen is good for you, its safe use depends on following your doctor’s directions. There are no directions on the label for using aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack or clot-related stroke. You must rely on your health professional to provide the correct information on dose and directions for use. Using aspirin correctly gives you the best chance of getting the health benefits with the fewest unwanted side effects. Discuss with your health professional the different forms of aspirin products that might be best suited for you.
Aspirin has been shown to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, but not all over-the-counter pain and fever reducers do that. Even though the directions on the aspirin label do not apply to this use of aspirin, you still need to read the label to confirm that the product you buy and use contains aspirin at the correct dose. Check the Drug Facts label for “active ingredients: aspirin” or “acetylsalicylic acid” at the dose that your health professional has prescribed.
Remember, if you are using baby aspirin everyday for weeks, months or years to prevent a heart attack, stroke, or for any use not listed on the label - without guidance from your health professional - you could be doing your body more harm than good.
You can walk into any pharmacy, grocery or convenience store and buy aspirin without a prescription. The Drug Facts label on medication products, will help you choose aspirin for relieving headache, pain, swelling, or fever. The Drug Facts label also gives directions that will help you use the aspirin so that it is safe and effective.
But what about using aspirin for a different use, time period, or in a manner that is not listed on the label? For example, using aspirin to lower the risk of heart attack and clot-related strokes. In these cases, the labeling information is not there to help you with how to choose and how to use the medicine safely. Since you don't have the labeling directions to help you, you need the medical knowledge of your doctor, nurse practitioner or other health professional.
You can increase the chance of getting the good effects and decrease the chance of getting the bad effects of any medicine by choosing and using it wisely. When it comes to using aspirin to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, choosing and using wisely means: Know the facts and Work with your health professional.
Daily Use of Aspirin is Not Right for Everyone
Aspirin has been shown to be helpful when used daily to lower the risk of heart attack, clot related strokes and other blood flow problems. Many medical professionals prescribe aspirin for these uses. There may be a benefit in daily aspirin use for you if you have some kind of heart or blood vessel disease, or if you have 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 of, or risk factors for heart or blood vessel disease.
Every prescription and over-the-counter medicine, has benefits and risks -- even such a common and familiar medicine as aspirin. Aspirin use can result in serious side effects, such as stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, kidney failure, and some kinds of strokes. No medicine is completely safe. By carefully reviewing many different factors, your health professional can help you make the best choice for you.
Daily aspirin can be safest when prescribed by a medical health professional. Before deciding if daily aspirin use is right for you, your health professional will need to consider:
• Your medical history and the history of your family members
• Your use of other medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter
• Your use of other products, such as dietary supplements, including vitamins and herbals
• Your allergies or sensitivities, and anything that affects your ability to use the medicine
• What you have to gain, or the benefits, from the use of the medicine
• Other options and their risks and benefits
• What side effects you may experience
• What dose, and what directions for use are best for you
• How to know when the medicine is working or not working for this use
Aspirin is a drug
If you are at risk for heart attack or stroke your doctor may prescribe aspirin to increase blood flow to the heart and brain. But any drug, including aspirin, can have harmful side effects, especially when mixed with other products. In fact, the chance of side effects increases with each new product you use.
New products includes prescription and other over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, (including vitamins and herbals), and sometimes foods and beverages. For instance, people who already use a prescribed medication to thin the blood should not use aspirin unless recommended by a health professional. There are also dietary supplements known to thin the blood. Using aspirin with alcohol or with another product that also contains aspirin, such as a cough cold- sinus drug, can increase the chance of side effects. Your health professional will consider your current state of health. Some medical conditions, such as pregnancy, uncontrolled high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, asthma, peptic (stomach) ulcers, liver and kidney disease, could make aspirin a bad choice for you.
Low-dose aspirin, taken regularly, cuts the risk of a heart attack. Aspirin makes it harder for blood cells called platelets to form clots that can block arteries which feed the heart.
At least, that was shown in men. But a major study found recently that, while aspirin reduced stroke risk in women, it did not reduce heart attack risk.
So what about women?
Researcher Diane Becker of Johns Hopkins looked at whether aspirin worked the same way in women. Her study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health, was in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"It is not because aspirin doesn't do its job. Aspirin does suppress platelets, and it should suppress clot formation." (seven seconds)
Becker suspects women may need higher doses to reduce their heart risk. She says women should keep taking aspirin.
Why is Aspirin Prescribed?
Prescription aspirin is used to relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (arthritis caused by swelling of the lining of the joints), osteoarthritis (arthritis caused by breakdown of the lining of the joints), systemic lupus erythematosus (condition in which the immune system attacks the joints and organs and causes pain and swelling) and certain other rheumatologic conditions (conditions in which the immune system attacks parts of the body). Nonprescription aspirin is used to reduce fever and to relieve mild to moderate pain from headaches, menstrual periods, arthritis, colds, toothaches, and muscle aches.
Nonprescription aspirin is also used to prevent heart attacks in people who have had a heart attack in the past or who have angina (chest pain that occurs when the heart does not get enough oxygen). Nonprescription aspirin is also used to reduce the risk of death in people who are experiencing or who have recently experienced a heart attack. Nonprescription aspirin is also used to prevent ischemic strokes (strokes that occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain) or mini-strokes (strokes that occur when the flow of blood to the brain is blocked for a short time) in people who have had this type of stroke or mini-stroke in the past.
Aspirin will not prevent hemorrhagic strokes (strokes caused by bleeding in the brain). Aspirin is in a group of medications called salicylates. It works by stopping the production of certain natural substances that cause fever, pain, swelling, and blood clots.
Aspirin is also available in combination with other medications such as antacids, pain relievers, and cough and cold medications. This monograph only includes information about the use of aspirin alone. If you are taking a combination product, read the information on the package or prescription label or ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How Should Aspirin be Used?
Prescription aspirin comes as an extended-release tablet (tablet that releases medication slowly over a period of time). Nonprescription aspirin comes as a regular tablet, an enteric-coated, delayed-release tablet (tablet that first begins to release medication some time after it is taken), a chewable tablet, powder, and a gum to take by mouth and a suppository to use rectally. Prescription aspirin is usually taken two or more times a day. Nonprescription aspirin is usually taken once a day to lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Nonprescription aspirin is usually taken every 4 to 6 hours as needed to treat fever or pain. Follow the directions on the package or prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take aspirin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than directed by the package label or prescribed by your doctor. Click-here for Health Tip-of-the-Day.
Swallow the extended-release tablets whole with a full glass of water. Do not break, crush, or chew them.
Swallow the tablets with a full glass of water.
Chewable aspirin tablets may be chewed, crushed, or swallowed whole. Drink a full glass of water, immediately after taking these tablets.
Ask a doctor before you give aspirin to your child or teenager. Aspirin may cause Reye's syndrome (a serious condition in which fat builds up on the brain, liver, and other body organs) in children and teenagers, especially if they have a virus such as chicken pox or the flu.
If you have had oral surgery or surgery to remove your tonsils in the last 7 days, talk to your doctor about which types of aspirin are safe for you.
Delayed-release tablets begin to work some time after they are taken. Do not take delayed-release tablets for fever or pain that must be relieved quickly.
Stop taking aspirin and call your doctor if your fever lasts longer than 3 days, if your pain lasts longer than 10 days, or if the part of your body that was painful becomes red or swollen. You may have a condition that must be treated by a doctor.
To insert an aspirin suppository into the rectum, follow these steps:
- Remove the wrapper.
- Dip the tip of the suppository in water.
- Lie down on your left side and raise your right knee to your chest. (If you are left-handed, lie on your right side and raise your left knee.)
- Using your finger, insert the suppository into the rectum, about 1/2 to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 centimeters) in infants and children and 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in adults. Hold it in place for a few moments.
- Do not stand up for at least 15 minutes. Then wash your hands thoroughly and resume your normal activities.
Other Uses for Aspirin
Aspirin is also sometimes used to treat rheumatic fever (a serious condition that may develop after a strep throat infection and may cause swelling of the heart valves) and Kawasaki disease (an illness that may cause heart problems in children). Aspirin is also sometimes used to lower the risk of blood clots in patients who have artificial heart valves or certain other heart conditions and to prevent certain complications of pregnancy.
What Special Precautions Should I Follow?
Before taking aspirin,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to aspirin, other medications for pain or fever, tartrazine dye, or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: acetazolamide (Diamox); angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), moexipril (Univasc), perindopril, (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace), and trandolapril (Mavik); anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin) and heparin; beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), labetalol (Normodyne), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), nadolol (Corgard), and propranolol (Inderal); diuretics ('water pills'); medications for diabetes or arthritis; medications for gout such as probenecid and sulfinpyrazone (Anturane); methotrexate (Trexall); other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); phenytoin (Dilantin); and valproic acid (Depakene, Depakote). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you more carefully for side effects.
- if you are taking aspirin on a regular basis to prevent heart attack or stroke, do not take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to treat pain or fever without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably tell you to allow some time to pass between taking your daily dose of aspirin and taking a dose of ibuprofen.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma, frequent stuffed or runny nose, or nasal polyps (growths on the linings of the nose). If you have these conditions, there is a risk that you will have an allergic reaction to aspirin. Your doctor may tell you that you should not take aspirin.
- tell your doctor if you often have heartburn, upset stomach, or stomach pain and if you have or have ever had ulcers, anemia, bleeding problems such as hemophilia, or kidney or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, especially if you are in the last few months of your pregnancy, you plan to become pregnant, or you are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking aspirin, call your doctor. Aspirin may harm the fetus and cause problems with delivery if it is taken during the last few months of pregnancy.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking aspirin.
- if you drink three or more alcoholic drinks every day, ask your doctor if you should take aspirin or other medications for pain and fever.
What Special Dietary Instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I Forget a Dose of Aspirin?
If your doctor has told you to take aspirin on a regular basis and you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What Side Effects can Aspirin Cause?
Aspirin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- stomach pain
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
- wheezing or difficulty breathing
- fast heartbeat
- fast breathing
- cold, clammy skin
- ringing in the ears
- loss of hearing
- bloody vomit
- vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- bright red blood in stools
- black or tarry stools
Aspirin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you experience any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone 1-800-332-1088.
What Storage Conditions are needed for Aspirin?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Store aspirin suppositories in a cool place or in a refrigerator. Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed and any tablets that have a strong vinegar smell. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In Case of Emergency / Overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- burning pain in the throat or stomach
- decreased urination
- talking a lot and saying things that do not make sense
- fear or nervousness
- double vision
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- abnormally excited mood
- hallucination (seeing things or hearing voices that are not there)
- loss of consciousness for a period of time
What other Information Should I Know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
If you are taking prescription aspirin, do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Brand Names for Aspirin
Brand Names of Combination Aspirin Products
- Alka-Seltzer® (containing Aspirin, Citric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate)
- Alka-Seltzer® Extra Strength (containing Aspirin, Citric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate)
- Alka-Seltzer® Morning Relief (containing Aspirin, Caffeine)
- Alka-Seltzer® Plus Flu (containing Aspirin, Chlorpheniramine, Dextromethorphan)
- Alka-Seltzer® PM (containing Aspirin, Diphenhydramine)
- Alor® (containing Aspirin, Hydrocodone)
- Anacin® (containing Aspirin, Caffeine)
- Anacin® Advanced Headache Formula (containing Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Caffeine)
- Aspircaf® (containing Aspirin, Caffeine)
- Axotal® (containing Aspirin, Butalbital)
- Azdone® (containing Aspirin, Hydrocodone)
- Bayer® Aspirin Plus Calcium (containing Aspirin, Calcium Carbonate)
- Bayer® Aspirin PM (containing Aspirin, Diphenhydramine)
- Bayer® Back and Body Pain (containing Aspirin, Caffeine)
- BC Headache (containing Aspirin, Caffeine, Salicylamide)
- BC Powder (containing Aspirin, Caffeine, Salicylamide)
- Damason-P® (containing Aspirin, Hydrocodone)
- Darvon® Compound (containing Aspirin, Caffeine, Propoxyphene)
- Emagrin® (containing Aspirin, Caffeine, Salicylamide)
- Endodan® (containing Aspirin, Oxycodone)
- Equagesic® (containing Aspirin, Meprobamate)
- Excedrin® (containing Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Caffeine)
- Excedrin® Back & Body (containing Acetaminophen, Aspirin)
- Goody's® Body Pain (containing Acetaminophen, Aspirin)
- Levacet® (containing Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Caffeine, Salicylamide)
- Lortab ASA® (containing Aspirin, Hydrocodone)
- Micrainin® (containing Aspirin, Meprobamate)
- Momentum® (containing Aspirin, Phenyltoloxamine)
- Norgesic® (containing Aspirin, Caffeine, Orphenadrine)
- Orphengesic® (containing Aspirin, Caffeine, Orphenadrine)
- Panasal® (containing Aspirin, Hydrocodone)
- Percodan® (containing Aspirin, Oxycodone)
- Propoxyphene Compound (containing Aspirin, Caffeine, Propoxyphene)
- Robaxisal® (containing Aspirin, Methocarbamol)
- Roxiprin® (containing Aspirin, Oxycodone)
- Saleto® (containing Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Caffeine, Salicylamide)
- Soma® Compound (containing Aspirin, Carisoprodol)
- Soma® Compound with Codeine (containing Aspirin, Carisoprodol, Codeine)
- Supac® (containing Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Caffeine)
- Synalgos-DC® (containing Aspirin, Caffeine, Dihydrocodeine)
- Talwin® Compound (containing Aspirin, Pentazocine)
- Vanquish® (containing Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Caffeine)
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