Aspirin provides benefit in nearly all groups of patients with clinical manifestations of coronary heart disease. This includes patients with evolving acute myocardial infarction or after recovery from myocardial infarction, with unstable or stable angina, and those who undergo coronary artery bypass grafting or coronary angioplasty.
Aspirin provides benefit in patients with peripheral arterial disease. This includes patients with acute or previous history of ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack, those with lower limb arterial insufficiency, and those who undergo grafting or angioplasty of peripheral arterial vessels.
People without symptoms but at increased risk of a coronary heart disease event (> 1% annual risk) may reduce this risk by taking low-dose aspirin. However, the decision to take aspirin requires detailed consideration of individual cardiovascular risk and the potential benefit versus harm of treatment, particularly bleeding.
Aspirin should only be used to prevent a cardiovascular event in association with an overall program of lifestyle measures including healthy eating, cessation of smoking, control of blood pressure and regular physical activity.
Prevention benefits of aspirin in heart disease can be achieved with doses as low as 75–150 mg daily.
Unwanted effects of aspirin include stomach upsets, activation of peptic ulcers, an increased tendency to bruising, allergic reactions and increased risk of major gastrointestinal and other bleeding, including intracranial haemorrhage. In general, the risk of bleeding increases with increasing dose of aspirin and when it is used in combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or oral anticoagulants.
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