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Nov 26, 2013

Taking Aspirin at Bedtime Decreases Heart Attack Risk

Taking aspirin before bed helps prevent blood clotting and reduces cardiovascular risk in heart attack patients.

Daily aspirin is one of the most common treatments for patients with a history of heart attack or stroke because it helps thin the blood and reduce risk of blood clots. However, a recent study found that aspirin may be most effective when taken at night, rather than in the morning.

Findings from this study were presented on Nov. 19 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Dallas, where thousands of experts gathered to review the latest research on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

Referred to as the ASPIRETENSION II trial (Aspirin in Reduction of Tension II ), this study included 290 heart attack survivors who took aspirin daily to reduce their risk of a future event. Patients were randomly assigned to take aspirin (100mg) in the morning or at bedtime and were followed for two outcomes: blood pressure and platelet activity (which measures the body’s ability to produce blood clots). After following each patient for three months, researchers found no differences in blood pressure among those who took aspirin in the morning vs. at bedtime. However, they did find that aspirin was more effective in reducing blood clotting when taken at night compared to the morning.

So why are these findings important? We know that heart attack and stroke tend to happen more in the morning because of the body’s morning surge of clotting activity after we wake up. Researchers figured that taking aspirin at night might further reduce risk for heart attack by preventing clotting activity in the morning—and they were right.

More research is needed on this topic but findings are extremely intriguing when it comes to secondary prevention in heart attack patients. Most heart attack patients already take daily aspirin to prevent a future heart attack, but it’s usually taken first thing in the morning. With 715,000 Americans suffering from heart attacks each year, taking aspirin at night could make a big impact in the prevention of future events.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How does aspirin help prevent heart attack and stroke?

  • Aspirin helps prevent heart attack and stroke by reducing blood clotting. Although blood clotting is the body’s natural way of healing damaged blood vessels, blood clots can travel to the heart and block major arteries, causing heart attack or stroke. Therefore, those at high risk for heart attack and stroke often take aspirin to help reduce clotting and risk for future cardiac events.
  • What aspirin dose is prescribed for patients with history of heart attack and stroke?

  • Patients with a history of cardiovascular events are typically prescribed 75–300 mg/day of aspirin to help reduce their risk for heart attack and stroke.

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