Low-Dose Aspirin Information

Aspirin helps men and women in different ways.

Aspirin can help you stay healthy as you get older. But aspirin is not right for everyone. Learn more about whether you should take low dose aspirin every day. Read more on the Men & Women: Protecting our Hearts & Brains (2-page PDF) fact sheet for more details on aspirin’s benefits and side effects.

Should women take aspirin?

Yes, men and women should take aspirin, but women should take it to protect their brains not their hearts. Aspirin prevents strokes in women, not heart attacks.

How do I decide if aspirin is right for me?

How old are you? Are you male or female? Do you have high blood pressure? Answering questions like these will help you decide if low-dose aspirin is right for you. It is important for you to know whether aspirin’s benefits are greater than its potential side effects.

  1. Determine if you have a risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Your risk depends on your age, sex, general health and family history. Find this out by doing a “risk assessment.” Read more about risk assessments and calculating your risk of disease: What the Experts Say.
  2. Will you develop side effects if you take aspirin (more information on this below)?
  3. Determine if the benefits of protecting you more against a heart attack (men) or stroke (women) outweigh the severity of the side effects.

Should all adults take aspirin to stay healthy?

If you are a man over 45 or a woman over 55, talk to your health care provider. Ask if aspirin can protect your health without causing too many side effects. If you are not likely to get heart disease or have a stroke, you may not need to take aspirin. Take aspirin if:

  • Heart disease or stroke at an early age runs in your family
  • You have other risk factors

Does aspirin prevent cancer?

Aspirin can help prevent different kinds of cancer. We know it prevents colorectal cancer in both men and women. It may help prevent other cancers, too. Ask your doctor if low-dose aspirin once a day can help protect you against heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Side effects

Side effects of taking low-dose aspirin could include:

  • Bleeding in the stomach serious enough to require a blood transfusion
  • Bleeding in the brain

Aspirin side effects are more common if you:

  • Are older
  • Take pain medicines called “NSAIDs,” such as ibuprofen (Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®)
  • Have had stomach ulcers
  • Take other blood thinner medicines, such as warfarin or Plavix®