Question: My doctor told me to start aspirin but there are so many kinds and so many doses. What do you recommend?
Answer: Aspirin is a pretty remarkable drug, first discovered in the bark of the willow tree. It's sort of an acidic substance, but was soon found to alleviate fevers, and in subsequent years, found to even prevent heart disease. So it's a very commonly prescribed medication for people, especially those at risk of heart disease, and a common question by people is: 'Well, what kind of aspirin should I use? Because when I look at the shelf, I see a whole bunch of different doses, I see some that are enterocoated that are supposed to protect my stomach, and some that aren't. Some that say the word "baby aspirin" on them, what am I supposed to do?'
Well, the studies, I think, are fairly clear, that the low dose of aspirin seems as effective as higher doses in preventing heart disease, and that's really the dose that's recommended. The American Heart Association recommends a dose between 70 and 160. I tell patients to use 81 mg, and I do that because that's one of the most common doses that you'll see in the store. It's the one that's sometimes called the baby aspirin, sometimes not, because the word "baby" sometimes puts people off, but 81 mg a day.
The enterocoated, the one that's supposed to be protective of the stomach -- I'll tell you, not a lot of evidence that it does that. If you like it, there seems to be little harm in taking it. Sometimes it's a little more expensive. But as of right now, there's not a lot of evidence that it really provides a benefit, so the most basic thing is if you're recommended to take aspirin, that 81mg, or a dose in that range, is the right way to go, and whether you use enteric or not, that's up to you.
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