Potential Hazards

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Potential Hazards

Heart and Circulatory
Aspirin — The Wonder Pill
Potential Hazards
Potential Hazards
Should you take one a day to prevent future problems? Not necessarily.
InteliHealth Medical Content

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Potential Hazards

So with all the reported benefits of aspirin, should you be taking it daily?

It all depends.

Most people with coronary artery disease (heart attack or angina) or high risk for coronary artery disease should be taking aspirin. Aspirin may be recommended for people who have had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Those with a family history of colon cancer should talk with their doctors about whether aspirin therapy is right for them. But the average person with no known risks of these conditions shouldn't take aspirin because there are side effects and potential hazards of prolonged use, such as.

  • Stomach irritation, ulcers or internal bleeding. Many people have minor irritation, and some develop stomach and intestinal ulcers that can be very painful and bleed.
  • Asthma and nasal polyps. Some people have a syndrome of aspirin sensitivity, polyps in the nose, and asthma. Those who have this triad must avoid aspirin and also all of the non-steroidal medications (NSAIDS), like ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Reye's syndrome. This rare but devastating condition can occur when children with chicken pox and other viral infections take aspirin to reduce fever. Reye's syndrome causes brain swelling and fatty deposits in the liver, resulting in symptoms that can include vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness and high blood pressure. In severe cases, the child can become brain damaged or die. For this reason, parents should avoid using aspirin or any aspirin containing product for viral illness in children.
  • Drug interactions. If you take other medications, do not start regular use of aspirin without checking for drug interactions.
  • Worsening of hemorrhagic stroke. There are two types of stroke-ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel, and hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding into the brain when a blood vessel ruptures. Ischemic stroke is more common and aspirin helps decrease its risk. However, aspirin increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. The decision to take aspirin for stroke prevention should always be directed by a physician.


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aspirin,stroke,brain,hemorrhagic stroke,asthma,blood vessel,coronary artery disease,drug,reye's syndrome,stomach
Last updated May 17, 2006

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