Avoiding a First Heart Attack With Aspirin

image for aspririn article You may have heard that aspirin can prevent heart attacks. It can stop the blood clots that cause a heart attack from forming. You should talk to your doctor before taking aspirin, though. It is not right for all. It may lower the risk of heart attacks, but it can also raise the risk of bleeding in some people.

United States Preventive Services Task Force

The USPSTF advises aspirin for adults:

  • Aged 50 to 59 years old—Take if there is a 10% or greater risk of either disease within 10 years and daily aspirin can be taken for at least 10 years without risk of bleeding.
  • Aged 60 to 69 years old—The recommendation is the same, but in this age range the decision to take daily low-dose aspirin is an individual one. You and your doctor will talk about the benefits and risks before you make a choice.
  • Under 50 and over 70 years old—No recommendation for or against taking daily low-dose aspirin.

American Heart Association

The AHA advises aspirin for people who are at high risk of having a heart attack. Your doctor will find out what your risk is and use it to decide if aspirin is right for you.

Know Your Risks

Heart disease is more common in men older than 45 and women older than 55. The risk is higher in people who are Black, Mexican, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Asian.

The AHA states that the major risks for heart disease are:

  • People in your family with heart disease
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Not staying active
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diabetes

Talk To Your Doctor

Ask your doctor if aspirin is right for you. You should talk about your own risk for heart disease, the pros and cons of aspirin, things that raise your risk of problems, and your own preferences.


American Heart Association

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Health Canada

Heart & Stroke Foundation


2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. Arnett D, Blumenthal R, et al. Journal of the American College of Cardiology Mar 2019, 26029; DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.03.010.

Aspirin and heart disease. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/PreventionTreatmentofHeartAttack/Aspirin-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_321714_Article.jsp#.V2FF9U2FPIU. Updated March 31, 2017. Accessed March 18, 2019.

Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114918/Aspirin-for-primary-prevention-of-cardiovascular-disease. Updated February 25, 2019. Accessed March 18, 2019.

US Preventive Services Task Force. Aspirin for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med . 2009;150(6):396-404.

Understand your risks to prevent a heart attack. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/UnderstandYourRiskofHeartAttack/Understand-Your-Risk-of-Heart-Attack_UCM_002040_Article.jsp#.V2FJEk2FPIU. Updated June 30, 2016. Accessed March 18, 2019.

Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 3/18/2019