This Is Your Heart on Aspirin


IstockphotoIt seems like such a simple way to stay healthy: Just pop an aspirin at breakfast and worry a little less about keeling over on the way to work from a heart attack or stroke. In fact, well bet you know someone who downs an aspirin every day. Now new research suggests that aspirin may be a wonder drug for many women who arent taking it. Heres how to know if you are one of them:

History counts. If youre over 50, have a family history of heart disease, or have a risk factor like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, you may be a good candidate, says researcher Jeffrey Berger, MD, a cardiologist at Duke University.

And if youve had a heart attack or stroke or you have diabetes, clogged blood vessels, or multiple risk factors—and youre not allergic to aspirin—you should definitely take it. But Berger says it isnt necessary if youre under 50, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and have no heart-disease risk factors. Either way, since almost 5 percent of the population will suffer serious stomach bleeding from aspirin, its wise to discuss the treatment with a doctor before starting.

Why bother? Does talking about aspirin and heart disease seem less important than focusing on illnesses like breast cancer? Doctors are making good progress in detecting and treating breast cancer.

Yet only one of every 34 women dies from breast cancer, while more than one in three die from cardiovascular disease. Sure, many doctors and patients think of heart disease as a mans problem. But Bergers research suggests that aspirin can save womens lives, too—if more of them will use it.