It's said that new habits die easily but old habits die hard — and that seems to be especially true when it comes to doctors who send their heart attack patients home from the hospital with a prescription to take daily aspirin. While the current American College of Cardiology guidelines call for low-dose aspirin (81 mg daily) following a first heart attack to help prevent a second one, a team of researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that between January 2007 and March 2011, almost 61 percent of all heart attack patients were on high-dose aspirin (325 mg) when they were discharged. Only about 36 percent got a low dose. A few folks got other doses. Old habits really do die hard.
Why does this matter? Because a new study shows that low-dose aspirin is just as effective as high-dose aspirin when it comes to preventing subsequent heart attacks, and it's less likely to cause complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding, stroke, ringing in the ears, and even hearing loss.
So if you or a loved one has suffered a heart attack, make sure you talk to your doctor about the benefits of taking low-dose aspirin. If you're on a higher dose, don't stop taking it without talking to your doctor; that can increase further heart attack risk. And ask your doc about changing to two low doses of aspirin per day, for 162 mg total. We like the cancer protection that dose affords. And remember to drink half a glass of warm water before and after you take each pill.
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