Before Taking Aspirin, Know Your Heart Risk, Doctors Say

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Doctors say patients should talk with their physicians about their risks and how taking an aspirin may benefit or harm them. For many, dealing with stomach bleeding may be better than having a heart attack. Dr. Gerard Mullin, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, noted that for patients who would benefit from daily aspirin, stomach bleeding can be fairly easily controlled with drugs called proton pump inhibitors, which protect the lining of the stomach. But of course, prescribing the PPIs for too many people would create a separate set of problems.

"We need to identify those patients who would benefit most by the use of drugs rather than generalize," Mullin said.

Dr. Scott Nelson, a family physician in Mississippi, said he has always been a "strong believer" of the value of using aspirin for prevention in his patients.

"I may now re-think my position on 'blanket' prescribing of aspirin to all of my at-risk patients and pay more attention to the overall risk-benefit picture," Nelson said.

ABC News' Dr. Sheila Reddy contributed to this report.

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