Aspirin helps prevent new heart attacks and strokes in heart attack patients.

Aspirin helps prevent new heart attacks and strokes in heart attack patients.

The Importance of Daily Aspirin After a Heart Attack

daily aspirin


When it comes to heart health, a daily aspirin can make a significant difference for individuals who have previously experienced a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack. Recent research presented at the ESC Congress 2023 indicates that not taking a daily aspirin after a heart attack can lead to a higher risk of recurring heart attacks, strokes, or even death. The study, conducted in Denmark, examined the risk associated with discontinuing long-term aspirin use compared to consistent usage after a heart attack.

The Study and Findings

The Danish study analyzed data from the Danish nationwide health registry, which included over 40,000 individuals aged 40 and above with a first heart attack between 2004 and 2017. These participants had been treated with a coronary stent and had taken aspirin during the first year after their heart attack. The study excluded individuals on anticoagulants or those who experienced a stroke or second heart attack within the first year.

Effectiveness of Daily Aspirin

The researchers evaluated aspirin usage at two, four, six, and eight years after the heart attack. It was found that individuals who consistently adhered to aspirin usage had a lower likelihood of experiencing another heart attack, stroke, or death at all four follow-up points. The findings are as follows:

  • At two-year follow-up: participants who discontinued aspirin usage had a 29% higher risk of recurrence.
  • At four-year follow-up: aspirin non-users were 40% more likely to have a second event.
  • At six-year follow-up: individuals not taking daily aspirin had a 31% higher risk of a second event.
  • At eight-year follow-up: those who stopped taking aspirin had a 20% higher likelihood of recurrence.

Understanding Primary and Secondary Prevention

The question of aspirin’s benefits often arises in discussions of primary and secondary prevention. Primary prevention focuses on preventing a first heart event, while secondary prevention aims to prevent subsequent events. Aspirin therapy falls into the secondary prevention category. Therefore, prescribing aspirin to individuals who have not experienced a heart attack should only occur under extenuating medical circumstances. When it comes to individuals at an elevated risk of subsequent heart events, aspirin significantly reduces that risk.

Clarifying Misconceptions

One common misconception surrounding aspirin usage is that it is universally beneficial for heart conditions. However, this study emphasizes that aspirin’s benefits only apply to individuals who have previously had a cardiovascular event. For those who have not experienced a heart attack or stroke, taking aspirin without medical advice can actually be harmful. Aspirin carries a small risk of bleeding, but in individuals with a history of heart attack or stroke, the risk of another event outweighs this minimal chance of bleeding. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with a doctor before considering aspirin as a preventive measure.

Encouraging Consistent Usage

Despite the proven benefits, ensuring consistent daily aspirin usage can be challenging. A separate study conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Michigan found that less than half of individuals worldwide who have experienced a heart attack or stroke take a daily aspirin. Access to healthcare, inconsistent messaging, and varying regulations on aspirin availability may contribute to the underuse of aspirin in different countries.

Consulting Your Doctor

Determining whether daily aspirin is appropriate for an individual depends on various factors. Factors such as existing medication usage and individual health conditions need to be considered. It is imperative not to make independent medical decisions. Each person’s care plan should be personalized, taking into consideration their specific circumstances and medical history. Therefore, consulting with a healthcare professional is necessary before making any changes to medication routines.


The research presented at the ESC Congress 2023 reiterates the importance of daily aspirin for individuals who have previously experienced a heart attack. While aspirin may carry some risks, its benefits in preventing recurring heart attacks, strokes, or death far outweigh these risks for those with a history of cardiovascular events. Understanding the distinction between primary and secondary prevention provides clarity on when aspirin is beneficial. By working closely with healthcare professionals, individuals can make informed decisions about their heart health and determine the most suitable preventative measures.