How Do I Know if I Am At Higher Risk for A Heart Attack?

If you are at risk for a heart attack, taking aspirin every day or every other day can lower your risk.

You may be at higher risk for a heart attack if you can say yes to any of the following:

  • I am a man over 40.
  • I am a woman past menopause.
  • I smoke.
  • I have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease.

If you answered "Yes" to any of these, talk to your doctor or nurse about whether taking aspirin is right for you.

Is Aspirin Safe?

For most people, taking aspirin is safe. But for some people, aspirin can increase the chance of bleeding in the stomach or intestines and may cause a small increase in some kinds of stroke.

For that reason, taking aspirin is not the right choice for everyone. The higher your risk of heart disease, the more you have to gain by taking aspirin.

What Should I Do?

Ask your doctor or nurse about taking aspirin. They can help you decide:

  • Whether to take aspirin.
  • What kind to take.
  • How much to take.
  • How often to take it.

Background

This What You Need To Know fact sheet provides recommendations for the public on staying healthy from AHRQ. The recommendations are based on the work of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), sponsored by AHRQ.

The USPSTF is an independent panel of experts in the fields of family medicine, gerontology, obstetrics-gynecology, pediatrics, nursing, prevention research, and psychology. The Task Force reviews research on a wide range of preventive services, including screening, counseling, and using medications to prevent disease, then makes recommendations for the public.

This fact sheet is part of Put Prevention Into Practice (PPIP), a national program sponsored by AHRQ to increase the delivery of USPSTF-recommended clinical preventive services in the primary care setting. Select for more information about PPIP and PPIP tools.

For More Information

To order more copies of this fact sheet or other PPIP material for patients, clinicians, or office systems, call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse:

Phone: 1-800-358-9295
Outside the United States: (703) 437-2078
Toll-free TDD service; hearing impaired only: 888-586-6340

Current as of January 2002
Internet Citation: How Do I Know if I Am At Higher Risk for A Heart Attack?. January 2002. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/coronary/aspneed/index.html