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About low-dose aspirin

Low-dose aspirin helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people who are at high risk of them. Aspirin is also known as acetylsalicylic acid.

Your doctor may suggest that you take a daily low dose if you have had a stroke or a heart attack to help stop you having another one.

Or, if you're at high risk of heart attack – for example, if you have had heart surgery or if you have chest pain (angina) caused by heart disease.

If you’re pregnant, you may be recommended to take low-dose aspirin if:

  • you’re at risk of high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)
  • you have underlying medical conditions where you have been advised to take low dose aspirin
  • you have had several miscarriages or complications in a previous pregnancy

Only take daily low-dose aspirin if your doctor recommends it.

Low-dose aspirin comes as tablets, including tablets that dissolve in a drink of water (soluble) and tablets with a special coating (enteric coated/gastro-resistant) to help to protect your stomach.

It's available on prescription. You can also buy it from pharmacies. However, if you’re pregnant, or having fertility treatment, low-dose aspirin will need to be prescribed by your doctor, a pregnancy specialist (obstetrician) or a midwife.

Children are sometimes treated with low-dose aspirin after heart surgery or to treat a rare condition called Kawasaki disease. Children should only take low-dose aspirin if a doctor prescribes it.

Taking low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes is not the same as taking aspirin for pain relief.

Key facts

  • Daily low-dose aspirin makes your blood less sticky and helps to prevent heart attacks and stroke.
  • You’ll usually take a dose of 75mg once a day. Sometimes, doses are higher.
  • It's best to take low-dose aspirin with food so it does not upset your stomach.
  • Only take low-dose aspirin if your doctor or midwife recommends it, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Carry on taking daily low-dose aspirin even if you feel well, as you'll still be getting the benefits.

Page last reviewed: 16 December 2021
Next review due: 16 December 2024