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Taking Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Aspirin and other antiplatelet medicines help prevent blood clots from forming. They can help some people lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

But these medicines can also make you more likely to bleed. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor before you start taking aspirin every day. It's not right for everyone. And if you and your doctor decide these medicines are right for you, learn how to take them safely.

If you take aspirin, be sure you know how to take it. Your doctor can tell you what dose to take and how often to take it. One low-dose aspirin is 81 milligrams (mg). But the dose for daily aspirin can range from 81 mg to 325 mg. If you take another antiplatelet, take it as prescribed.

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?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.