Tip of the Week: Should You Take Aspirin Daily?

Conventional wisdom has it that an aspirin a day can help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Aspirin regimens have become so popular that some drug makers are marketing low-dose versions or "baby" versions specifically for regular use. So why not start taking an aspirin every morning with that multivitamin?

The short answer is check with your doctor before taking any medication every dayeven one that seems as innocuous as this basic over-the-counter pain reliever. Aspirin is the trade name for acetylsalicylic acid, a compound that thins the blood by inhibiting its clotting action. And while long-term, low-dose use has been shown to reduce the incidence of heart attack and clot-related stroke in some high-risk patients, only a physician can determine whether you would benefit. In fact, using aspirin too frequently may do more harm than good. Not only does it interact negatively with some medications, but too much aspirin intake can have serious side effects like stomach ulcers or stomach bleeding. For more information on heart disease, stroke and aspirin go to the Mayo Clinic’s daily aspirin-therapy section.