Should I take aspirin?
The ultimate aim of preventive medicine is to increase healthy, disease-free survival, and aspirin can help towards that! (See references 1-5) However, just as with every known drug, aspirin has undesirable side effects, in particular bleeding, so do read the section in this website on bleeding.

In the end, you are responsible for your own health. YOU are responsible for whether or not you smoke…. whether or not you are overweight…. whether or not you take regular exercise…. how much alcohol you drink…. and whether or not you decide to take a small dose of aspirin each day, has to be, in the end, your own decision.

We urge you to find out everything you can about every possible way in which you can protect your health. And if you want to know about protection by aspirin seek as much information as you can - read the other sections of this website…. take advice from whoever you trust…. and do read the label that comes with every packet of tablets!

It is most important that you understand that we do not give advice or make recommendations about taking aspirin. We simply summarise the evidence to help you make your own informed decision.

However, the following will give you a few guidelines.


Are you :-

What is your age

Have you had a heart attack?

Have you had a stroke?

Do you have, or have you had any serious disease?

Have you, or have you had any serious health problem such as high blood pressure or a history of stomach trouble, or are you on regular medication (other than regular aspirin)….

Have you had, or do you have a cancer?

Have you frequent indigestion, or have you had stomach trouble (a stomach or duodenal ulcer) or have you had treatment for stomach trouble at any time ?

Have you been offered health screening recently ?

Are you worried because there has been rather a lot of heart disease in your family, or perhaps a number of your relatives have had cancer?

And finally…
One other suggestion… if a heart attack does occur, the sooner aspirin is given the better (see references 6-8). This is why Ambulance men and Paramedics usually give aspirin to a patient for whom an ambulance has been called because of sudden severe chest pain. It has therefore been suggested that older people should always carry an aspirin tablet…….. A clever little container has been produced for carrying two tablets of aspirin.
Do google ‘ASPOD’ to see this.

And finally… if you do take aspirin regularly, do not suddenly stop taking it. Research has shown that if aspirin is suddenly withdrawn, the risk of a heart attach is increased about three-fold (see references 9.10).

Pregnant women are another group of people who should seek advice before taking aspirin. In some circumstances, aspirin can be beneficial in pregnancy but this should only occur under the direction of a qualified healthcare professional. If you do decide to take aspirin, as with all medicines read the product information first.


  1. Thun et al. The role of aspirin in cancer prevention. Nat Rev. Clin. Oncol. 2012;9:259-67..
  2. Pignone et al. Effect of including cancer mortality on the cost-effectiveness of aspirin for primary prevention in men. J Gen Intern Med May 2013 (epub ahead of print)..
  3. Cusick et al. Estimates of benefits and harms of prophylactic use of aspirin in the general population. Ann Oncol doi:.1093/annonc/mdu225..
  4. Hassan et al. Primary prevention of colortectal cancer with low-dose aspirin in combination with endoscopy: a cost effective analysis. Gut 2012;61:1172-9..
  5. Stegman et al. Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. A benefit and harm analysis. PLoS ONE 10(7)e0127194 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127194..
  6. Woollard et al. Life saving early and immediate aspirin: too little too late Postgrad Med J 2008 84: p. 337-8..
  7. Elwood et al. ‘Time is muscle’: Aspirin taken during acute coronary thrombosis. Brit J Cardiol. 2010;17:185-9..
  8. Woollard et al. Pre-hospital aspirin for suspected myocardial infarction and acute coronary syndromes: a headache for paramedics? Emergency Medicine Journal 2001;18:478-81. 7.
  9. Systematic review and meta-analysis on the hazards of discontinuing or not adhering to aspirin among 50,279 patients at risk for coronary artery disease. Eur Heart J. 2006;27:2667-74
  10. Continuation of low-dose aspirin therapy in peptic ulcer bleeding: a randomised trial. Ann Int Med 2010;152:1-9.

  11. Aspirin for all over 50? FOR BMJ 2005;330:1440-2.
  12. Aspirin for all over 50? AGAINST BMJ 2005;330:1442-3.
  13. The recovery of platelet cyclooxygenase activity explains interindividual variablility in responsiveness to low-dose aspirin in patients with and without diabetes. J Thromb Haemostasis 2012;10:1220-30
  14. Adherence to aspirin in the prevention of myocardial infarction: The Physicians Health Study. Arch Intern Med 1994;154:2649-57.
  15. Primary and secondary prevenbtion of cardiovascular disease in diabetes with aspirin. Diabetes & Vasc Dis Res. 2012;9:245-55.

By NOSCO Management Solutions Ltd (01443 400998)

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