Aspirin in Heart Attacks & Strokes | Texas OnSite CPR

Aspirin in Heart Attacks & Strokes


AHA Recommendation

The American Heart Association recommends aspirin use for patients who've had a myocardial infarction (heart attack), unstable angina, ischemic stroke (caused by blood clot) or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs or "little strokes"), if not contraindicated. This recommendation is based on sound evidence from clinical trials showing that aspirin helps prevent the recurrence of such events as heart attack, hospitalization for recurrent angina, second strokes, etc. (secondary prevention).  Studies show aspirin also helps prevent these events from occurring in people at high risk (primary prevention).

You should not start aspirin therapy without first consulting your physician.  The risks and benefits of aspirin therapy vary for each person.

If you’re taking aspirin and you must undergo even a simple surgical procedure or dental extraction, you must tell the surgeon or dentist your aspirin dosage.

What about aspirin and alcohol?

There is a risk of stomach problems, including stomach bleeding, for people who take aspirin regularly.  Alcohol use can increase these stomach risks, so ask your doctor if it is safe for you to drink alcohol in moderation.

Should I take aspirin during a heart attack or stroke?

The more important thing to do if any heart attack warning signs occur is to call 9-1-1 immediately.  Don't do anything before calling 9-1-1.  In particular, don't take an aspirin, then wait for it to relieve your pain.  Don't postpone calling 9-1-1.  Aspirin won't treat your heart attack by itself.

After you call 9-1-1, the 9-1-1 operator may recommend that you take an aspirin.  He or she can make sure that you don't have an allergy to aspirin or a condition that makes using it too risky. If the 9-1-1 operator doesn't talk to you about taking an aspirin, the emergency medical technicians or the physician in the Emergency Department will give you an aspirin if it's right for you.  Research shows that getting an aspirin early in the treatment of a heart attack, along with other treatments EMTs and Emergency Department physicians provide, can significantly improve your chances of survival.

Taking aspirin isn't advised during a stroke, because not all strokes are caused by blood clots.  Most strokes are caused by clots, but some are caused by ruptured blood vessels.  Taking aspirin could potentially make these bleeding strokes more severe.