If you've had angioplasty, stenting or other types of heart procedures, low-dose aspirin may be just as effective as higher doses at preventing post-surgery blood clots.

Lower doses, which can be less expensive, may also be the safest and better than other doses at reducing the risk of bleeding in heart patients, say Canadian researchers.

The Study

Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario compared the safety and efficacy of varying doses of aspirin—low (less than 100 milligrams; intermediate (101 to 199 mg); and high (more than 200 mg)—in 2,658 heart patients.

All study participants had what doctors call "acute coronary syndromes" (ACS)—a group of symptoms linked to chest pain caused by arterial damage that puts them at high risk for heart attack. All had also undergone procedures such as angioplasty; some with and some without the placement of artery-opening stents.

The patients were randomly assigned an aspirin dose following their procedure and tracked for eight months. Researchers found no difference in the rates of death, heart attack or stroke between the difference doses. And while rates of major bleeding were similar among all groups after 30 days of aspirin therapy, it had improved most significantly after eight months in those taking the "children's" aspirin dose (81 milligrams or one quarter of a normal aspirin).

The Significance

"These data are intriguing, since low-dose aspirin is most commonly prescribed in Europe, but, in the United States, higher doses are most commonly used; notes study author 1)r. Shamir R. Mehta. ''Our data suggest that lower doses may be safer, but this finding needs confirmation in a dedicated randomized trial."

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