Taking Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Aspirin acts as a "blood thinner." It prevents blood clots from forming. When taken during and after a heart attack, it can reduce your chance of dying. And it's used if you have a stent in your coronary artery. Also, aspirin helps certain people lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Be sure you know what dose of aspirin to take and how often to take it. Low-dose aspirin is typically 81 mg. But the dose for daily aspirin can range from 81 mg to 325 mg.

Taking aspirin every day can cause bleeding. It may not be safe if you have stomach ulcers. And it may not be safe if you have high blood pressure that is not controlled. If you take aspirin pills every day, do not take ones that have other ingredients such as caffeine or sodium.

Before you start to take aspirin, tell your doctor all the medicines and natural health products you take.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take aspirin with a full glass of water unless your doctor tells you not to. Do not lie down right after you take it.
  • If you have a stent in your coronary artery, take your aspirin as your heart doctor says to. If another doctor says to stop taking the aspirin for any reason, talk to your heart doctor before you stop.
  • Do not chew or crush the coated or sustained-release forms of aspirin.
  • Ask your doctor if you can drink alcohol while you take aspirin. And ask how much you can drink. Too much alcohol with aspirin can cause stomach bleeding.
  • Do not take aspirin if you are pregnant, unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • Keep all aspirin out of children's reach.
  • Throw aspirin away if it starts to smell like vinegar.
  • Do not take aspirin if you have gout or if you take prescription blood thinners unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not take prescription or over-the-counter medicines or natural health products without talking to your doctor first. Read the label before you take another over-the-counter medicine. Many contain aspirin. So they could cause you to take too much aspirin.
  • Talk with your doctor before you take a pain medicine. Ask which type of medicine you can take and how to take it safely with aspirin.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist before a surgery or procedure that you take aspirin. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking aspirin before your surgery or procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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