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Medical Edge: Aspirin Benefit

Updated: 05/14/2013 6:38 PM
Created: 05/14/2013 10:31 AM KSTP.com
By: Kenny King

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Stephen Kopecky says a daily dose of 81 milligrams of aspirin–one baby aspirin—reduces the risk of heart attack for men and stroke for women.

Aspirin affects platelets, which are the components in blood responsible for clotting. If a tear happens in your coronary arteries platelets help stop bleeding. But if the clot gets too large, it can block blood flow and cause a heart attack, or a stroke if it happens in your brain. Aspirin inhibits platelets from forming clots.

Dr. Kopecky says you can take any make of aspirin you want. But pay attention if you’re taking coated aspirin, the type that’s easier on your stomach.

“And there were some recent reports that coating inhibits the absorption and it isn't as good for you and that was only true if it's an acute heart attack.  So the coating does delay somewhat the absorption of the aspirin, but if you're taking aspirin every day it's fine.  You can take the coated.”

But if you’re having chest pain, a heart attack, consider taking uncoated aspirin and up the dosage to four baby aspirins or one adult aspirin and chew it so it gets into your blood stream faster. And call 9-1-1.

“If you chew the aspirin, it will work on your platelets within about 45 minutes or start to block the clotting and start to lower your chance of dying if you're having a heart attack.  If you swallow it, it takes two or three hours.  So for daily use swallowing is fine.  If it's acute, urgent use, it's better to chew it.”