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Patient Question

I am a 55 year-old woman who suffered a heart attack two years ago. Since that time I have had no additional problems with my heart. My primary care doctor recently told me I was doing so well I could stop my aspirin. Is this true?


Department of Internal Medicine
Expert Answer

Aspirin is one of mankind's oldest therapies and an important drug for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes among patients (both men and women) who have already suffered one or more of these events. Aspirin acts by limiting the ability of blood to clot. Blood clots are the most common cause of heart attacks and strokes.

At Stony Brook University Hospital, our physicians have been involved in recent research that indicates that less than half of women who should be on aspirin for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes are actually taking the drug.

That's an extraordinarily high number of people not being on a regimen that should be. We don't yet understand all the reasons for the under-utilization of aspirin in women. It appears from the research that age, race, insurance status and educational level of the patient all affect the doctor's decision to prescribe aspirin or the patient's willingness to comply with the treatment recommendations.

It may be a good idea, in light of this recent research, to have a follow-up discussion with your doctor to make sure you have understood him or her correctly and that he has taken your concerns into account.

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