While taking aspirin can be beneficial for some patients, a local cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center in Lawton said people shouldn’t take it in hopes of preventing their first heart attack .

Dr. Tom, a cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center, said heart attacks happen when plaque inside someone’s artery ruptures.

“When it ruptures, it starts accumulating clot. It’s the clot, not the plaque, that fills up the artery and causes a heart attack,” said Dr. Tom.

Taking aspirin is known to help prevent them, but taking aspirin doesn’t prevent someone’s first heart attack.

“It prevents your second, third, and fourth heart attack, so after your first heart attack, you should be on aspirin forever unless there are some bleeding complications or unless there are some complications later on,” said Dr. Tom.

Doctors may suggest taking aspirin before ever having one if someone has a strong family history of heart attacks, but that just depends on risks and family history.

The expert said while the medicine has probably saved millions of lives, it’s also a dangerous medication as it’s killed people because of the bleeding complications it can cause.

“So yes, on one hand, it saves lives, but on the other can, aspirin can cause bleeding complications and patients’ death. So, the important thing here is to distinguish between the benefits and risks of taking aspirin,” said Dr. Tom.

He recommended against taking the medication as a prevention method before discussing it with your doctor. The cardiologist said as soon as a heart attack happens, even if it’s their first, taking aspirin can help.

“Chewing 325 or 324 milligrams of aspirin isn’t going to hurt you. Most people don’t have any side effects. So, it’s probably better. When in doubt, ‘Am I having a heart attack or not?’ when in doubt, chew four baby aspirin or one full 325-milligram aspirin while waiting for the paramedics to arrive,” said Dr. Tom.

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