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How Dangerous Is It to Stop Taking Aspirin?

People who stop taking aspirin are at higher risk of a heart attack or stroke. Patients should continue aspirin unless there is a strong reason to stop.
How Dangerous Is It to Stop Taking Aspirin?
LLANO TX-AUG 16 2015: Bottle of Bayer Low Dose Aspirin against white background. Recommended by doctors to reduce chance of Heart Attack.

Aspirin, a drug that has been easing pain and even saving lives for more than a hundred years, gets very little respect. Perhaps because it is so old or maybe because it is available over the counter, people don’t tend to take it seriously. But we should. It turns out that people ought to take great care if they decide to stop taking aspirin.

What Could Happen If You Stop Taking Aspirin?

Q. I read your column about a woman who stopped aspirin and had a heart attack. Almost thirty years ago I started taking aspirin.

In December, 2015, I was getting ready to have shoulder replacement surgery. There were a lot of scans and tests to be sure everything looked good before the surgery. They ALL checked out fine. A week before the surgery, I had to stop taking my aspirin, omega-3 fish oil and OTC supplements.

Two days before the surgery, I woke up fuzzy. As it turned out, I’d had a blood clot go to my brain and cause a mild stroke. After three months of heart monitoring and tests, the neurology doctors said it was rare, but they think going off aspirin caused the blood to clot and stop up a small artery.

Serious Consequences for People Who Stop Taking Aspirin:

A. Swedish researchers reported that patients who stop low-dose aspirin appear to be more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke (Sundstrom et al, Circulation, online, Sept. 25, 2017). They hypothesized that this may be a rebound blood-clotting effect.

This new information poses a dilemma for surgeons. They often advise patients to stop taking aspirin prior to surgery to prevent excessive bleeding. This new information may call for a re-evaluation of the protocol. Unfortunately, we do not have any studies to show us the safest way to stop taking aspirin.

8/13/18 redirected to:  https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/articles/should-you-stop-taking-aspirin-before-a-biopsy/

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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