January 21, 2021

Should You Take Aspirin If You Are on Blood Thinners?

The short answer from a cardiologist

aspirin placed in the shape of a heart

Q: Is it OK to take aspirin if I’m on blood thinners for atrial fibrillation?

A: Aspirin is a type of blood thinner called an antiplatelet. Antiplatelets reduce your blood cells’ ability to clump together to form a clot. If you have heart disease, you’re probably familiar with taking a low dose of aspirin to help prevent heart attack.

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However, if you have atrial fibrillation and are taking a different kind of blood thinner called an anticoagulant (such as heparin or warfarin) to reduce your risk for blood clots and stroke, it’s critical to talk with your cardiologist if you have an aspirin regimen or are planning to start one.

Sometimes, it’s important for patients to be prescribed aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix) with anticoagulants such as apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran etexilate (Pradaxa) or rivaroxaban (Xarelto) to prevent cardiovascular events. In many other cases, though, combining these two types of blood thinners could increase risk for bleeding that outweighs any potential benefit.

As with any medication, you should talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits associated with using aspirin.

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Interventional cardiologist Rishi Puri, MD, PhD

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